KIAC changes name to River States Conference

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KIAC changes name to River States Conference

Written By Josh Croup

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Point Park athletic teams will compete in the River States Conference next year after the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference announced a name change Friday.

The KIAC, the oldest conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics has added five new schools in the last four years. The name change better represents the 13 member schools across its five states.

The announcement and logo unveiling took place during a press conference Friday morning at Indiana University Southeast. First-year KIAC Commissioner Scott McClure said the four-year process to rebrand the conference comes at an exciting time in the conference’s history.

“This is a wonderful day for the KIAC and the River States Conference as we prepare for our name change this summer and unveil our new logo,” McClure said. “While we look forward to a bright future as the River States Conference, we are extremely mindful of our historic past, and the roots of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference will forever be the foundation of our growth as a conference.”

The name change will take effect July 1, 2016 on the 100th anniversary of the conference that includes schools in Ky., Ind., Pa., W.Va. and Ohio.

The Ohio River played a key role in the development of the new conference name. Starting in Pittsburgh, blocks from Point Park and Carlow University, the river continues to the western border of the conference near Brescia (Ky.) University.

The new logo features five stars at the top, representing the five states in the conference and the five core character values of the NAIA Champions of Character Initiative, which are respect, responsibility, integrity, servant leadership and sportsmanship.

Five topographical areas represented in the five states are featured at the bottom of the logo. A royal blue river represents the state of Ohio and the Ohio River as it passes through the other states.

IU Southeast Director of Athletics and President of the KIAC Board of Athletic Directors Joe Glover began Friday’s press conference by thanking former KIAC Commissioner Bill Melton for helping the KIAC stabilize and kick-starting the rebranding process.

“This new name and branding helps lead our conference into a bright future,” Glover said. “We are in the midst of unparalleled growth and success, and this is just another step for our league.”

The release date for the new primary conference logo and name was set for Mar. 4 back in February to reflect the conference’s goal to “march forth” with its new brand.

The conference used #ReSpecT on social media in the weeks leading up to the announcement. McClure said during a media conference call that the conference is heading in the right direction.

“We want our conference to be respected, certainly in terms of being competitive, but we want our conference to be respected for all of the other great things that they do for our student athletes as well,” McClure said.

McClure said other names considered included Century, Grand Rivers and River Valley. During its spring meeting in May 2015, the KIAC Council of Presidents unanimously approved River States Conference as the new conference name.

Point Park President Paul Hennigan made the motion to accept the name, and IU Southeast Chancellor Dr. Ray Wallace, chair of the KIAC Council of Presidents, seconded the motion to officially adopt the new name.

“It has been a long process, but I believe we have created a great, new look for the league,” Wallace said at the press conference. “I want to thank my fellow presidents for all their support during the process. We all believe in the value collegiate athletics brings to the total student experience, and we remain dedicated to making sure our league focuses on our students first.”

Point Park joined the KIAC in 2012 after competing in the American Mideast Conference from 1999-2012. In the spring of 2012, Melton created an Ad-Hoc Committee for Name Change, which included Point Park Director of Athletics Dan Swalga.

“The name change to River States Conference is very positive for our conference and for us at Point Park as members,” Swalga said in a statement Friday. “The conference has grown by four or five schools the last four years. The membership is rather stable, and the complexion of the membership has changed. This is a natural progression with the change that has occurred. The new name is more in line with the makeup of the conference.”

McClure said he has borrowed practices from other NAIA conference commissioners to help improve the KIAC. He said some of the keys to advancing the conference in the future include social media growth, strong media relations departments and member schools’ commitment to funding athletics.

“We get better when each of our institutions get better in terms of their resources, personnel and their staffing,” McClure said.

Glover said the leadership within the conference from presidents to commissioners has helped take the KIAC to the next level.

“I think you’re going to see a lot of growth and a lot of continued improvement,” Glover said. “I think our league has a ceiling that goes really high. I think we’re going to continue to reach up to that level in the next year or two years.”

While the conference has grown to 13 teams in recent years, McClure said the conference is still pursuing growth and expansion, but is cautious to not grow too large. Glover said 16 member schools in the most the conference would grow to in the near future.

As for first-year commissioner McClure, the “quality of people” he has met in the conference has been the highlight of his job.

“The strength of our conference lies not only in our numbers, but also in the quality of the administrations, coaches, staffs and student-athletes on our campuses,” McClure said. “We are all linked by a commitment to the development and education of our talented students.”