TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — Northeastern State University has accepted an invitation to join the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA).  Dr. Don Betz, President, and Jeffrey Konya, director of athletics, made the official announcement Friday.
Central Oklahoma also formalized its move to the MIAA. Northeastern State and UCO will notify the Lone Star Conference of their withdrawals prior to the Aug. 1 deadline as required in the LSC Constitution.
“We are pleased to receive and accept an invitation to join the MIAA and its institutional members,” Betz said. “The MIAA enjoys an exceptional reputation nationally for the quality of both its athletics and academic programs. We have much in common with its member universities including  institutional missions, regional proximity, and our common link through our regional accrediting association, the Higher Learning Commission.
“We are also delighted that we will be entering the MIAA together with our friends at the University of Central Oklahoma. They are one of our greatest rivals in athletics, but one of our appreciated partners as we collaborate in academics, operations and regional service. We couldn’t be more pleased that we will continue our close association and rivalry in athletics .

“We appreciate our fellow member institutions of  the Lone Star Conference and we value our 15-year relationship. However, this is a great fit for NSU. We  eagerly await the start of athletic competition and the opportunity to explore new relationships with the association’s schools,” Betz said.

Earlier this summer, MIAA presidents approved legislation to explore expansion for the conference, which is headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., from 12 institutions to 16. The geographic footprint of the MIAA has been expanded by the addition of Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma, which have a major presence in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metropolitan areas.

Also, one of the longest running traditions among Oklahoma regional universities will remain intact --- The President’s Cup. Since 1998 the team that wins the football game between these two institutions has been awarded the President’s Cup trophy. Beginning this year, the award will be enhanced to encompass all sports played between the two schools.

“The landscape in all divisions of collegiate athletics has seen a dramatic change over the past few months,” said Konya. “Our decision to join the MIAA, considered by many to be the premier NCAA Division II conference, was made after extensive dialogue and candid discussions between some of their membership and those within our institution. We felt the universities that comprise the MIAA share a similar vision and philosophy with Northeastern State in academics and athletics.

“This is an historic day for Northeastern State and the RiverHawks.”

In 1995, Northeastern State joined the Lone Star Conference while it sought membership in NCAA Division II. In 1998, Northeastern State became an active member of the NCAA and the pinnacle of its athletic achievements came when it won the 2003 NCAA Division II Men’s Basketball championship.