BMC will join Bethel University from McKenzie, Tenn., and Martin Methodist College of Pulaski, Tenn., as new members of the 15-member SSAC – a league that includes Mississippi schools Belhaven University and William Carey University.
The Toppers, as well as Bethel and Martin Methodist, have been longtime members of the TranSouth Athletic Conference, which will dissolve at the end of the 2013 spring sports season.
Dr. Kurt Patberg, commissioner of the SSAC, said the addition of the three programs will ensure that the league remain one of the strongest in the NAIA.
“We strive to keep this conference as one of the premier NAIA conferences in the country and the addition of these three schools contributes to meeting those goals,” Patberg said. “These three institutions directly align with our goals.”
“We’re very excited that our athletic program has been accepted into the Southern States,” said BMC athletics director Lavon Driskell. “I truly believe that the SSAC is the best conference in the NAIA and we’re just humbled to part of it.
“It’s certainly not going to be easy; there are some really fine programs in the SSAC and I think this will be a great opportunity for us at BMC to take our programs to the next level."
Besides Belhaven and William Carey, the current members of the SSAC are: Auburn-Montgomery, Faulkner, Mobile, and Spring Hill in Alabama; Brenau, Brewton-Parker, Coastal Georgia, Emmanuel, Southern Polytechnic, and Truett-McConnell in Georgia; Loyola in Louisana; Lee in Tennessee; and Southern Wesleyan in South Carolina.
Lee, however, will become a member of the NCAA Division II next year, and Truett-McConnell will join another NAIA conference.
The dissolution of the TranSouth Athletic Conference began a year ago when Union and Trevecca Nazarene began the move toward NCAA Division II and Cumberland and Lyon joined other NAIA conferences, leaving only BMC, Bethel, Martin Methodist, Freed-Hardeman and Mid-Continent. Freed-Hardeman and Mid-Continent will join another NAIA league.