SPRINGFIELD – After 26 years of being an independent, the University of Illinois at Springfield Prairie Stars will be the newest member of the American Midwest Conference (AMC), effective in the fall of 2003. The official announcement welcoming the Prairie Stars was released by the Executive Committee, with final approval of the AMC institution presidents, this afternoon by AMC Conference Commissioner Lowell Pitzer.
“Adding UIS is going to strengthen the conference and the region in several areas,” said Pitzer, “more noticeably in soccer because of their national reputation. The location of the school is geographically a good fit for the conference. The venues for soccer and softball are great facilities. With the addition of other sports, adding men’s basketball this year and softball next spring, we will become more competitive in the conference and as a region.”
The region is made up of the American Midwest Conference, with eight institutions, and the Heart of America Conference, with 11 institutions. The two conferences combine to form Region V, which covers Missouri, Arkansas, parts of Kansas and Iowa, and most of the state of Illinois south of Joliet, IL. The Prairie Stars were members of Region VII, which covered the NAIA schools from Springfield to Chicago, Wisconsin, and most of Iowa.
Pg. 2 – American Midwest Conference
“ We spent a lot of time discussing the pros and cons about joining any conference,” said UIS Athletic Director Nick Adams. “I thought it was important for our university and our athletic programs to find an organization that shared the same academic philosophies, geographic location for overall expenses, and a high level of competition for all of the sports that we offer. We found all of these in the American Midwest Conference.”
“The days of having an advantage as an independent are over,” continued Adams. “With the way in which athletics is heading in all of the sports, it is more of a disadvantage to be an independent. By joining the AMC, we will be able to provide better rivalries between schools that we already have rivalries with, will be able to get more regional and national recognition for our student athletes and all of our programs.”
The American Midwest Conference will now consist of eight institutions from Illinois, Missouri, and Arkansas. Institutions in the AMC include the “Bearcats” of McKendree College (Lebanon, IL); the “Hornets” of Harris Stowe State College (St. Louis, MO); the “Spartans” of Missouri Baptist University (St. Louis, MO); the “Cougars” of Columbia College (Columbia, MO); the “Trojans” of Hannibal LaGrange College (Hannibal, MO); the “Owls” of William Woods University (Fulton, MO); and the “Eagles” of Williams Baptist College (Walnut Ridge, AR).