In a current college sports world where loyalty to conferences, traditions, and rivalries often mean very little, it is rare that a school feels that they would rather not give up what they already have. College football has been in the news the last several months and will continue to make front headlines as schools jump conferences in search of what they feel is best for them. Conferences such as the Big XII appear that they are going to be driven straight into the ground due to a lack of allegiance from its member schools, indicating that many great rivalries will be lost. Nevertheless, earlier this month, Indiana Wesleyan declared that it will not apply to become a member of the NCAA Division II. After spending two years contemplating if they wished to pursue the NCAA, Indiana Wesleyan decided not to change its athletic affiliation. The Wildcats have been a member of the MCC since 1973, and are the largest school in the conference based on traditional undergraduate enrollment. As a result to this decision, this will have an obvious impact on Bethel athletics. By remaining in the conference, several schools will benefit from the fact that they are able to raise the level of competition in every sport. In addition, the MCC has quite a bit of national credibility in several sports due to school similar to IWU. Many coaches on Bethel’s campus are satisfied with this decision and believe that this was the best move for the MCC. One of these coaches is Tony Natali who fulfills many roles in the athletic department consisting of the men’s and women’s head track coach, assistant basketball coach, and assistant athletic director. “I believe IWU adds a lot to the MCC in the sports I am involved in,” said Tony Natali. “The quality of play in these sports is greatly enhanced by them being in our conference.” Coach Tony Natali also noted that Indiana Wesleyan along with other schools definitely push Bethel sports teams to maximize their athletes. Although IWU has not been at the very top of every sport, they have had abnormal success in sports such as women’s tennis where they have won 20 consecutive MCC titles. Director of tennis John Natali noted that this has been a struggle, but it is in addition to that as to why he is slightly surprised at this decision. “Aside from women’s tennis, I’m a bit surprised at their decision based on what they’ve been doing in terms of expansion of all their facilities,” said John Natali. However, John Natali did mention that although the expansion of their athletic facilities seemed to indicate that this is the direction they wanted to move, their decision not to join the NCAA Division II was a very positive decision for the conference. “With the recent addition of Mount Vernon Nazarene, the conference is finally at an even number and if IWU left, the MCC would be right back where they were before the addition of Mount Vernon Nazarene,” said John Natali. Overall, the conference will remain the same, and teams such as Bethel will continue to battle against their conference foe Indiana Wesleyan.
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