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NEWS

Sept. 26, 2006

Hillcats Join Sooner Athletic Conference

RSU gains membership into elite NAIA league

Rogers State University in Claremore, Okla., has been accepted into the Sooner Athletic Conference by a unanimous vote of the SAC athletic directors, it was announced Tuesday.

"We are honored to be a part of one of the premier conferences in the NAIA," said Wren Baker, director of athletics and head men's basketball coach at RSU. "Our ethics and values are similar to the SAC schools and we are excited to have a conference home. It's a great time to be a Hillcat as our athletic programs continue to grow and flourish."

Athletic directors from the 10 schools in the conference voted RSU into the fold during their annual meeting Tuesday morning at Oklahoma City. The Hillcats will begin a two-year associate membership in 2007-08. RSU will be eligible for full membership after two years at the associate level.

"RSU is pleased to join the respected member institutions of the highly regarded Sooner Athletic Conference, which places a strong focus on balancing academics and athletics and building character traits among student-athletes," said RSU President Dr. Joe Wiley.

The Hillcats will field baseball and softball teams in the spring of 2007 and are scheduled to start men's and women's basketball in the fall of 2007. RSU will consider adding sports such as soccer and golf in the near future.

RSU is the only public four-year, residential university in the Tulsa area and has been recognized as one of the fastest growing universities in Oklahoma in the last five years.

"RSU will be a solid addition to the conference," said John Hudson, commissioner of the SAC. "They have a strong commitment to athletics and they give the SAC a presence in Eastern Oklahoma."

The Sooner Athletic Conference, a member conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, is regarded as one of the best small college conferences in the nation. The SAC has claimed 52 team national championships since 1990.

The current membership includes 10 schools in three states - John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Ark.; Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, Texas; Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva; Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee; Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond; Oklahoma City University; St. Gregory's University in Shawnee; Univesity of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha; Southern Nazarene University in Bethany; and Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas.