Wichita, Kan. / Sioux City, Iowa - The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) and the Great Plains Athletic Conference (GPAC) football coaches and commissioners have come to an agreement on a series of football games played between teams from each league starting with the 2015 season.
The two-year agreement between the conferences would pair teams based on their conference finishes in 2013 & 2014 for 2015 & 2016 challenges. KCAC teams will host the first set of non-conference games on September 5, 2015 with the GPAC representatives playing host the following season.
"From day one our administrators and coaches were on-board to make this work. The fans of the NAIA and our two leagues are in for some outstanding small college football!" declared Corey Westra, GPAC Commissioner.
One of the primary intents of the scheduling arrangement is to ease overall scheduling for teams from both conferences. Based on the agreement, teams will have one additional non-conference game to schedule outside of the KCAC/GPAC Challenge. Following the series game each year, both leagues will move into their respective conference schedules and play nine consecutive weeks of league games.
"Speaking on behalf of the KCAC and its member institutions, we look forward to seeing the teams compete on the field in 2015. It will be a great reward following the hard work and collaboration of coaches and sports chairs from each league," commented Dr. Scott Crawford, KCAC Commissioner
1. Morningside at Sterling - Sterling, Kan.
2. Northwestern at Tabor - Hillsboro, Kan.
3. Dakota Wesleyan at Ottawa - Ottawa, Kan.
4. Nebraska Wesleyan at Friends - Wichita, Kan.
5. Doane at McPherson - McPherson, Kan.
6. Concordia at Southwestern - Winfield, Kan.
7. Midland at Kansas Wesleyan - Salina, Kan.
8. Briar Cliff at Saint Mary - Leavenworth, Kan.
9. Hastings at Bethel - North Newton, Kan.
"This is what the NAIA is about, two conferences working together to make each other stronger and this alliance is not only good for our two conferences but for all of NAIA football," said Westra.
Crawford and Westra agree the two conferences have emerged as strong leagues in the NAIA and cross matching the teams on an annual basis will be exciting for the players, coaches, fans, and institutions of the KCAC and the GPAC
Due to a contractual obligation for 2015 & 2016 Dordt College (Iowa) will be unable to participate in the challenge, bringing the GPAC participants to nine. In order to compensate, Bethany College (Kan.) will not compete in the challenge during 2015 and the 10th place KCAC team in 2014 will not compete in the 2016 challenge.
For the upcoming 2014 season, there are four KCAC/GPAC matchups on the schedule featuring: Nebraska Wesleyan at Tabor; Hastings at Kansas Wesleyan, Concordia at Sterling, Friends at Doane. All games to be played September 6.
Week two of the 2013 season saw three KCAC/GPAC competitions: Hastings hosted and defeated Kansas Wesleyan (38-20), Tabor bested Nebraska Wesleyan on the road (10-9), and Friends defeated Doane at home in overtime (24-21).
What coaches have to say about the GPAC/KCAC Football Challenge…
"What an exciting time for NAIA football fans, having two of the premier football-playing conferences matched head-to-head in the opening week of the season. Our entire league, coaches, players, and parents alike eagerly anticipate the great action on the field and the natural rivalries that will soon develop between schools among the two conferences." - Brian Keller, Head Coach, Nebraska Wesleyan University
"Our program at Ottawa University is looking forward to starting this KCAC/GPAC Challenge. Both conferences have very strong programs and each year play a significant role in the national playoffs. Each team in the GPAC brings a high level of football and I think our fans will be excited to see teams from other parts of the NAIA compete on our fields."- Kent Kessinger, Head Coach, Ottawa University
"The KCAC/GPAC Football Challenge will put a new level of importance on the first game of the fall. It will make the first game about more than just kicking off the season, but playing for the pride of your conference and your team." - Steve Ryan, Head Coach, Morningside College
"The KCAC/GPAC series is a great way for both conferences to be focused on Nationally in the early stages of the season. Five of 16 teams participating in the 2013 NAIA Football Championship , belong to these two conferences. Each game will allow all 20 teams to see where they fall on the National stage in the early part of the season." - Ken Crandall, Head Coach, Southwestern College
"It's going to be exciting having these two great conferences battling on the field for early season bragging rights in the NAIA. The structure of the challenge guarantees quality games on everyone's schedule to start the season and these games will be matchups that fans can enjoy." - Kyle Achterhoff, Head Coach, Northwestern College