Conferences: Austin College has accepted an invitation to join the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, effective in 2006-07. Austin will fill the spot in the league lineup currently held by Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, which recently announced plans to join the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference in 2006 (see the May 9 issue of The NCAA News). The SCAC's board of directors also voted to pursue two additional members and expand to 12 institutions, divided into two divisions. "Austin brings a strong Division III program to our conference and we look forward to a long and successful relationship," said SCAC Commissioner Steve Argo. "President Oscar Page, along with Tim Millerick, vice-president for student affairs and athletics, are dedicated to maintaining a strong athletics program that is an integral part of the education process of their campus." The school in Sherman, Texas, currently is a member of the American Southwest Conference, which it helped found in 1996. "This move will align Austin College with other nationally recognized residential liberal arts colleges," said Page, a former member and vice-chair of the NCAA Division III Management Council. Added Millerick, "I firmly believe that by aligning with the SCAC, we will be able to offer our student-athletes an outstanding college experience, both educationally and athletically, on a daily basis." Austin sponsored 11 teams during the past year (six for men and five for women) and recently announced plans to elevate softball from club to varsity status.
Sports sponsorship: Hiram College announced plans to eliminate two sports -- tennis, and track and field -- as varsity programs. The school's president, Thomas V. Chema, said in a letter to alumni and supporters that the sports will be moved to club status, and that the action will enable the college's other varsity programs to become more competitive in the North Coast Athletic Conference.
Facilities: Lakeland College formally dedicated its new gymnasium June 18 to Duane "Moose" Woltzen, former athletics director and men's basketball coach at the school, and his wife, Dona. The 1,200-seat gym (expandable to 1,800 seats) is part of the recently completed $6.4 million expansion of the Todd Wehr Athletic Center, which also includes a 4,400-square-foot fitness center, several new locker rooms, a classroom and a multipurpose room. The Moose and Dona Woltzen Gymnasium honors the couple who arrived in the community in 1964. Coach Woltzen coached basketball at Lakeland through 1988, compiling a 536-229 record (including 18 20-win seasons). After his retirement, Woltzen started a business booking overseas tours for university and college basketball teams.
Miscellaneous: Steve Smith, a freshman outfielder on the baseball team at Bridgewater State College, hit safely in all 39 of his games this season for the Bears, beginning with the first game of his varsity career March 11 against Washington College (Maryland). It is the longest streak reported in any NCAA division to begin a collegiate career. Smith hit .445 for the season with 69 hits, six home runs, 13 doubles, four triples, 30 runs scored and 52 RBI ... Five Division III institutions joined the University of Rhode Island and the University of Queensland from Australia as participants in the first Intercollegiate Renaissance Games, hosted by the Institute for International Sport at Rhode Island. Former Division III Management Council Chair Suzanne Coffey served as chair for the games, which were won by Bates College, the school where she serves as athletics director. The goal of the games is to build a bridge between academic, athletics and cultural pursuits through competition. Contested events included basketball, soccer, a two-mile run and a rope pull, as well as debate, a mathematics competition, poetry and voice. "These games really remind me why I love sports," said Siri Berman, a recent Bates graduate who captained the school's women's soccer team last fall. "These games gave me the opportunity to re-engage in my past talents of singing, violin-playing and writing that often took a back burner in a society that values single-event accomplishments." Other participating institutions were Lynchburg College, Randolph-Macon Woman's College, Hampden-Sydney College and Bridgewater College (Virginia) ... The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, on behalf of its 10 member institutions, donated the net proceeds from its winter championships events to a church working with an international agency on tsunami relief in Indonesia. The conference donated $4,337 to the North Carolina-based New Hope Church, which supports the efforts of Professionals International, a faith-based volunteer organization supporting the reconstruction of more than 2,000 homes in 14 Indonesian villages. The donation also helps support medical care. The contribution was drawn from net proceeds of the league's men's and women's swimming and diving championships and basketball tournaments, including donations collected from fans during the events. Two graduates of league member Hope College, Andrew and Shanna Ten Clay Norden, provided the inspiration for the donation through their work with the sponsoring church. Shanna is a resident anesthesiologist at Duke University Medical Center and Andrew is an assistant athletic trainer at Duke.
-- Compiled by Jack Copeland