HOUGHTON - The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference continues to eye potential expansion, and that was just one of several issues discussed during two days of Presidents Council meetings held for the first time in Houghton on Thursday and Friday.
Representatives from all 16 GLIAC institutions took part in the meetings hosted by Michigan Tech by virtue of MTU President Glenn Mroz's role as chair of the Presidents Council. Schools attending included Ohio universities Walsh and Malone, which officially begin their league memberships on July 1.
"We hope to reach agreement on some of the issues facing us ... to make sure the league runs smoothly," Mroz said before the meetings began Thursday.
A dedication to students and financial concerns are major factors when considering expansion.
"There's no secret that our league is very spread out geographically from north to south," said Tech athletic director Suzanne Sanregret, who is chair of the GLIAC Management Council, made up of the league's athletic directors. "Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan are very good members of the GLIAC and have very strong athletic programs. ... We have a good working relationship with the rest of the league."
With Mroz and Sanregret each chairing their respective councils, Tech has played a key role in monitoring geographic and financial interests in the GLIAC. But according to GLIAC Commissioner Dell Robinson, expansion takes into account more than just geography.
"In the past, there has been sometimes not as much tendency to consider some geographical concerns," Robinson said. "Now that we have (Mroz and Sanregret) that live it every day, we can have it as a forefront area but what came of this meeting is geography is important, but we have to broaden our focus.
"We're looking at how do they fit in mission, focus, academic profile. We're digging deeper into the depth of what expansion means."
The GLIAC followed its strategic plan through this year to expand the league in pairs to 16, and, according to Robinson, future expansion possibilities are in the works, including two schools whose names are not being announced. Canadian schools were also mentioned as "intriguing" to Robinson and the council.
Robinson alluded to another concern about possibly losing Ohio schools to the newly formed Great Midwest Athletic Conference, which starts play with eight schools this fall and includes four schools from Ohio.