PORTSMOUTH- This fall, at the start of the 2023-24 academic year, Shawnee State University will compete in its first season as a member of the NAIA River States Conference (RSC).
“We’ve had great success competing in the Mid-South Conference (MSC) the last several years,” SSU Athletics Director Jeff Hamilton said. “We’re looking forward to starting our new season in the River States Conference and reconnecting with some of our friends and historical rivals, like Rio Grande and Ohio Christian University.”
Hamilton said that several factors contributed to SSU’s decision to move to the River States Conference. At the top is geography.
“These are our neighbors,” he said. “Many of our teams currently play River States Conference opponents in non-conference match-ups, so we are familiar with all the schools in this conference and we’ve built friendly rivalries through the years.”
Hamilton said that the move to the RSC will also reduce travel time for teams by about half, benefiting students, parents and fans.
“The geographic proximity and travel distance will help our students with their academic schedules and missed class time,” he said. “It will also be very beneficial for our athletes’ families, traveling to see them play in person, which we feel is important for their experience as college athletes.”
When traveling for the RSC contests, Hamilton explained that the farthest trip will be five hours, reducing travel time in about half from current MSC opponents. The average travel time in the RSC is less than three hours. Sports in the RSC are also typically split between east and west, further reducing travel. Shawnee State will compete with Ohio Christian University
(Circleville, OH), University of Rio Grande (Rio Grande, OH), Point Park University (Pittsburgh, PA), West Virginia University Tech (Beckley, WV), Alice Lloyd College (Pippa Passes, KY), and Indiana University East (Richmond, IN). The RSC organizes conference schedules to focus on these opponents, as well.
With the Ohio River flowing through the center of the geographic region of the conference, the RSC is comprised of five states: Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Fourteen institutions currently make up the conference. In addition to the opponents already mentioned, RSC includes Indiana University Southeast (New Albany, IN), Indiana University Kokomo (Kokomo, IN), Saint Mary-Of-The-Woods College (Saint Mary of the Woods, IN), Oakland City University (Oakland City, IN), Brescia University (Owensboro, KY), Carlow University (Pittsburgh, PA), and Midway University (Midway, KY).
The River States Conference was founded in 1916 as the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The league underwent a rebranding to best reflect its membership and changed its name to the River States Conference in 2016. RSC sponsors championships in 17 sports including baseball, basketball, softball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, indoor track & field, and volleyball. SSU will continue to compete with schools in other affiliated conferences for swimming, bowling and Esports. To learn more about athletics at Shawnee State University, visit www.ssubears.com.