Ashland Athletics Ready for First Year in GMAC

Gracie Wilson, Collegian Managing Editor

With the fall sports season right around the corner, the Ashland University Eagles will kick off their inaugural year in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC) and face off against new competition. 

The change comes after a 25-year period with the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) where teams have faced the likes of mostly Michigan schools, such as Ferris State and Grand Valley. Now, they will see teams closer to home such as Tiffin and Ohio Dominican. 

 “We thought going forward, as much success as we had in the GLIAC, as much as we liked the league, we really thought now was the time to join the GMAC,” Al King, Athletic Director at Ashland University said. “We believe it’s an emerging league and is going to continue to get better.” 

The decision to change conferences goes to the presidential level at the university and is made in conjunction with the Athletic Director. After watching the progress of the GMAC over a few years while also looking at the success of AU in the GLIAC, there was a clearer picture of what the university’s next move would be. 

By moving to the GMAC, King believes there will be an all-around student benefit due to the decrease in travel distance such as less missed class time for athletes, the ability to run a fan bus to the game for other AU students and mental health resources the league provides for its athletes. Additionally, the AU marching band will have the chance to join football on the road for away games. 

“For those students, it’s opening up a whole different world where they’re going to have the opportunity to do more…just because of proximity,” King said. 

Not only does the change in conferences increase accessibility to games and ease of travel, but also it reestablishes some rivalries with historic roots in Eagle Nation. King believes that longtime fans of AU football will be excited for the return of games with Hillsdale and Ohio Dominican. 

Students can also catch a glimpse of a new all-around rival in athletics: University of Findlay, one of AU’s biggest rivalries for several seasons prior to joining the GLIAC. Now, the rivalry reemerges and will be played up this year. 

 “I know Findlay across the board was a gigantic rivalry, I bet if you had Findlay’s (Athletic Director) in here, she would tell you the same thing,” King said. 

The GMAC logo now painted in the hardwood flooring at Kates Gym. (GRACIE WILSON)

The Ashland University Eagles will officially begin league play in the GMAC when competitions across all sports begin this fall, with football’s GMAC home debut on Oct. 9 against the Ohio Dominican University Panthers