By Alyssia Winston
The Heart of America Athletic Conference took on the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference on Sept. 17 with each team from both conferences going head to head with a counterpart based upon their conference finish the previous year.
Tabor, who finished second in their conference standing last year, faced Missouri Valley who shared a conference championship, but technically finished second behind Baker. Missouri Valley lost to Tabor 27-17 making MVC 0-2 against the KCAC after losing to Ottawa last year.
This series is a joint project between the two conferences because they are so close together, in the terms of proximity, Sports Information Director Andy Pulverenti said. Most KCAC schools have a three to four hour drive to most of the HAAC schools. The two conferences decided to play each other, Pulverenti said.
There are currently 10 schools in both the KCAC and the HAAC. With those even numbers, each team could play a non-conference game. This is the first time anything like this was done between another conference and Heart of America, Pulverenti said.
The number one teams play each other from each conference and the number two teams played, to all the way down to the teams that placed tenth. It was a good idea to get the two conferences involved and to have top teams in each conference to play each other, so there weren’t any lopsided games, Pulverenti said.
The purpose of these two conferences going head to head was to get each school a non-conference game. In the NAIA, schools are required to play a minimum of 10 games, with teams in the HAAC only playing 9 conference games.
However, next year The Heart of America will not be able meet KCAC head to head. Potentially, next year the HAAC is expanding to 12 teams, said Pulverenti.
“We’re bringing in William Penn and Grand View,” he said, referring to teams which are currently are a part of the Midwest Classic Conference.
The KCAC will not be able to continue with the partnership because they only will have 10 schools and the HAAC did not want leave two schools without a non-conference game.
The HAAC league schedule will change to 11 regular season games next year and all regular season dates will be filled with conference schools.
The only way to create another series like these is for the NAIA to increase number of weeks teams could play a game, Pulverenti said.
“Right now we have five weeks in the postseason format,” Pulverenti said. “The first three weeks for the first round quarter finals and semifinals, than a week off, and fifth week for the championship game.”
This year, the HAAC defeated KCAC in eight of the 10 matchups.
Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) is a college athletic conference affiliated with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The HAAC was founded in 1971 when the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association now called the Mid- America Intercollegiate Athletic Association was split into two. . The current members of the HAAC are: Avila, Baker, Benedictine, Central Methodist, Culver-Stockton, Evangel, Graceland, MidAmerica Nazarene, Missouri Valley and Peru State.
The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) is also a intercollegiate athletic conference affiliated with the NAIA). KCAC is the oldest conference in the NAIA and the second oldest in the U.S. The current members of KCAC are as follow: Bethany, Bethel, Friends, Kansas Wesleyan, McPherson, Ottawa, Saint Mary, Southwestern, Sterling and Tabor.