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Houghton College will become a new member of the Empire 8 beginning in 2012-13. The NAIA institution is in the process of applying for NCAA Division III membership. If accepted, the school will be required to go through one year of exploratory membership followed by four years of provisional membership before becoming an active Division III member.
Houghton College is a liberal arts institution of 1,200 students located in Western New York, just 65 miles south of Rochester and Buffalo.
The school will join existing Empire 8 members Alfred University, Elmira College, Hartwick College, Ithaca College, Nazareth College, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. John Fisher College, Stevens Institute of Technology and Utica College.
The Highlanders will compete in the conference in 2012-13 but will not be eligible for conference championships until they become an active NCAA Division III member. Houghton will compete in Empire 8 play in each sport it sponsors: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s track and field, and women’s volleyball.
“The Empire 8’s commitment to academic excellence, quality athletics competition and sportsmanship/character development is a perfect fit for us,” said Houghton Athletics Director H. Skip Lord. “We have enjoyed the opportunity to compete with Empire 8 teams over the years and have always been more than impressed.”
“As a strong academic institution that is also committed to the educational values athletics contributes to higher education, Houghton is a very welcomed addition to the Empire 8,” said Empire 8 Commissioner Chuck Mitrano. “They have great leadership on every level and we look forward to a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.”