What do Vikings, Wildcats, Saints, Falcons, Crusaders, Nanooks, and Yellow Jackets have in common? If everything goes according to plan, beginning in 2015, they will all become Concordia University-Portland’s newest athletic rivals as the Cavaliers join the NCAA Division II Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC) – one of the top NCAA Division II conferences in the country. GNAC includes teams from five states and one Canadian province.
On July 11, 2014, the NCAA Division II Membership Committee officially accepted the application of Concordia University-Portland to become a member of the NCAA. Concordia joins the ranks of the University of Alaska Anchorage, the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Central Washington University, Montana State University Billings, Northwest Nazarene University (Idaho), Saint Martin’s University (Washington), Seattle Pacific University (Washington), Western Oregon University and Western Washington University as full-time members of the GNAC.
“This announcement marks what will become one of the most defining moments for not only the athletics department, but for Concordia University-Portland as a whole,” said Concordia President Chuck Schlimpert. “We are thrilled to be making this next pivotal step towards full membership in the NCAA.”
The roadmap to full NCAA membership.
Currently a member of the NAIA’s Cascade Collegiate Conference, Concordia competes in 15 of the GNAC’s 16 officially recognized sports. The only sport in which it doesn’t participate is football. Concordia will compete in the GNAC in men’s soccer, women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s golf, softball, and baseball.
For 2014-2015, Concordia will still compete at an NAIA school in the Cascade Conference. During the next two seasons, Concordia will compete as an NCAA member of the GNAC conference, but will not be eligible for any post-season play. Finally, beginning in 2017, Concordia will be a full NCAA Division II school in the GNAC conference, eligible to compete for conference and national titles.
“We are tremendously excited to officially join the GNAC and enter the NCAA membership process,” says Concordia Athletic Director Matt English. “This is an accomplishment that would not have been achieved without the outstanding work from our administration, coaches, and staff – as well as the decades of excellence from all of our past student-athletes. The culture of success we have built in competition and the classroom cannot be taken lightly, as that foundation is what has enabled us to be in this position.”
Leaving a legacy in the NAIA.
Concordia University-Portland has had great athletic success at the NAIA level, capturing six consecutive CCC All-Sports trophies and earning 66 conference championships – including at least one in each of their sports – since 2000. The Cavaliers have also placed inside the top 20 of the NAIA Directors’ Cup standings for six straight seasons, finishing as high as ninth in 2008-2009.