Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- UW-Superior has been officially accepted into the Minnesota-based Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) as a ninth full member institution, the school announced on Wednesday afternoon.
The UMAC Council of Presidents voted unanimously on Tuesday morning to accept UW-Superior, which will begin competition as a UMAC member in the 2015-16 season.
The move means UW-Superior will be leaving the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC), of which it was a charter member in 1913 when it was called the Wisconsin State University Conference (WSUC).
"This really is a bittersweet day for us. On the one hand we are excited to see what the future holds in becoming part of a new conference, but on the other hand there is some emotion that comes with leaving the only conference we have been a part of," UW-Superior Athletics Director Steve Nelson said. "This isn't a decision that was made lightly or made on a whim. At the end of the day, we had to do what was best for our department. We had to do what was best competitively, financially, and institutionally."
UW-Superior will go from being the smallest school in the WIAC to the third-largest in the UMAC, and the school's average road trip will decrease by nearly 100 miles.
"For a long time the WIAC was the right fit, and the only fit, for UW-Superior," Nelson said. "Over time that has changed. Our travel is much more significant than any other team in the conference, with our shortest trip being over two hours. It is something that has had an effect on and is a burden to our coaches and student-athletes."
The move will also add spice to what was an already geographic rivalry with St. Scholastica, which is one of the eight other full member institutions of the UMAC.
"I don't think that I need to say what it means to be in the same conference with St. Scholastica," Nelson said. "This is going to significantly fan the fire and provide a lot of energy to an already strong rivalry."
"The rivalry that already exists between CSS and UWS," St. Scholastica Director of Athletic Communications Jesse Robinson said, "coupled with conference championship and national qualifier implications, will heighten that rivalry and excitement even more around the Twin Ports."
Every UW-Superior sport except for men's and women's hockey will now compete in the UMAC. The hockey teams, because the UMAC doesn't sponsor hockey, will remain members of the WIAC.
There will be news conference held on the UW-Superior conference Tuesday afternoon at which Nelson, UW-Superior Chancellor Dr. Renee Wachter, UMAC Commissioner Cory Borchardt, and St. Scholastica Athletics Director Don Olson will be available for further comment.