Rio Grande among new affiliate members of MSC

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Mid-South Conference Commissioner Eric Ward has announced that the University of Rio Grande, Indiana Tech, Lourdes (Ohio) University and Truett McConnell (Ga.) will join the conference as affiliate members beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.

The Mid-South Conference Council of Presidents unanimously approved the four institutions for affiliate membership at their March meeting.

Rio Grande joins the MSC in men and women’s swimming and men’s wrestling, while Indiana Tech and Lourdes join the conference in women’s wrestling and Truett McConnell joins the Mid-South in men’s volleyball.

“We are incredibly happy to welcome Rio Grande, Indiana Tech, Lourdes and Truett McConnell — and their student-athletes and coaches — to the Mid-South Conference,” Ward said. “All four are excellent institutions with outstanding athletic traditions. Each addition makes us stronger and more competitive in men and women’s swimming, men and women’s wrestling and men’s volleyball.”

Rio Grande men’s wrestling begins its first season in 2020-21, while the university is reinstating swimming for the upcoming academic year after a long hiatus.

Jason Schweer was named the school’s men’s wrestling coach on March 20.

The school is expected to name a swimming coach in the coming days.

“The University of Rio Grande is very excited to be adding men’s wrestling for our student-athletes for the first time in school history,” Rio Grande athletics director Jeff Lanham said. “Also, we are reinstating men and women’s swimming. Many decades ago, swimming was a strong sport at Rio Grande. We are looking forward to welcoming the wrestling and swim teams to campus in the fall. We’re also looking forward to being an affiliate member of the Mid-South Conference and renewing old acquaintances as well as creating new relationships. The competitiveness of the Mid-South will help us to set high standards for our student-athletes.”

Indiana Tech announced the start of women’s wrestling on Feb. 11, 2019.

Two months later, the Warriors announced Paul Rademacher as their first women’s wrestling coach.

“We are excited to launch women’s wrestling on our campus in the 2020-21 season and are honored to be a part of the Mid-South Conference,” Indiana Tech athletics director Debbie Warren said. “We look forward to exciting new events in our new conference home for women’s wrestling and are excited to showcase our “Warrior Pride” and a “Go For IT” attitude to the Mid-South Conference.”

Like Indiana Tech, Lourdes embarks on its first women’s wrestling season in 2020-21.

Lourdes announced the start of the program as well as naming Kate Hill as its first coach on Jan. 14.

“We are thrilled and excited to be able to join the Mid-South Conference as we begin our women’s wrestling program at Lourdes University,” athletics director Janet Eaton said. “The caliber of wrestling within the conference is something we aspire to obtain, and we will do our very best to represent the conference to the best of our ability. We look forward to beginning competition in the Mid-South Conference this upcoming winter.”

Truett McConnell begins its first year of men’s volleyball in 2020-21.

Mark Corbin — who also serves as the women’s volleyball coach at the school — takes over the first-year program.

“Truett McConnell is looking forward to its inaugural men’s volleyball season and excited that we have been accepted into the Mid-South Conference,” Corbin said. “Being a part of this conference will give us a good and challenging schedule for our first year. We look forward to competing with the other conference schools and helping grow the sport of men’s volleyball. This is an excellent opportunity for young men to continue their volleyball careers while getting an excellent education. We hope to see men’s volleyball continue to grow throughout our area and the country.”

The four additions bring the Mid-South’s affiliate membership to 24 institutions.

The MSC footprint of full and affiliate members includes 11 states — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Virginia.

Beginning in 2020-21, the Mid-South Conference will boast 12 full members in addition to the 24 affiliate members.