The Belhaven Blazers’ athletic teams have a long history of excellence. National championships, conference titles, numerous national tournament appearances – all have been a common occurrence for the Green and Gold as a member of the NAIA. Beginning with the 2015-16 athletics year, Belhaven will be competing in a new arena- the NCAA.
The Blazers will be members of the American Southwest Conference – made up of small colleges in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas.
“I’m thrilled we have reached the start of American Southwest Conference membership. We could not have a better new home than the ASC,” said Belhaven President Dr. Roger Parrott. “The character of the schools and the commitment to student-athletes blends seamlessly with Belhaven’s priorities.
The ASC is part of NCAA’s Division III – the largest division in the NCAA. Prestigious institutions such as the University of Chicago, Johns Hopkins and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology call Division III home.
The benefits of a new athletic affiliation will be felt immediately. For example, Hal Mumme’s football squad recently released its 2015 schedule. Six of the Blazers’ first seven games will take place either at home or in the Jackson metro area. Belhaven will open its season on a Thursday night, September 3, renewing a rivalry with Millsaps.
The following week, the Blazers will host one of the biggest games in school history, as three-time defending Division III national champion Wisconsin-Whitewater comes to Newell Field. After defeating Mississippi College 32-14 in last season’s home opener, Belhaven will face the Choctaws in Clinton.
Other fall sports – men’s and women’s soccer and volleyball, also announced their schedules. The men’s soccer team will open with William Carey on September 1, while the Lady Blazers will take on Mississippi College on September 3. Volleyball will open its Division III era in Memphis, taking on Rhodes College on September 1.
As the athletic department makes a full transition to NCAA Division III, the Blazers will also become members of the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). The NCCAA is an association of Christ-centered collegiate institutions whose mission is to use athletic competition as an integral component of education. The NCCAA will provide its student-athletes postseason competition opportunities as it transitions to full membership status with the NCAA.
It’s always a great time to be a Blazer, and this exciting transition will benefit all of our student-athletes in our 17 intercollegiate sports.