Houghton College Adds Baseball and Softball for 2011-2012 Considers Application for NCAA D-III Membership

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Houghton College announced today that it would add baseball and softball as intercollegiate sports beginning in the 2011-2012 season. The addition of these programs helps the college meet the standards of sports offerings for NCAA D-III membership, a move that is currently under consideration for the Christian liberal arts college located in Western New York.

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I firmly believe that athletics, when taught in the appropriate context, holds an invaluable place within a liberal arts education and can positively mold and shape the lives of those involved with them.

Houghton College announced today that it would add baseball and softball as intercollegiate sports beginning in the 2011-2012 season. The addition of these programs helps the college meet the standards of sports offerings for NCAA D-III membership, a move that is currently under consideration for the Christian liberal arts college located in Western New York.

Houghton College is currently a member of the American Mideast Conference within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and offers 10 intercollegiate sports to student-athletes: men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s track & field and women’s field hockey and volleyball. The addition of baseball and softball will strengthen the spring athletic season and provide opportunities for more students to enjoy the rewards of athletic competition currently experienced by more than 200 Houghton athletes. Both sports will begin play with an abbreviated schedule in 2011-2012.

“Student-athletes in general are very representative of the quality students that attend Houghton,” remarks Harold “Skip” Lord, director of intercollegiate athletics. “To have more of this kind of young people interested in attending due to the addition of these programs will benefit our department, the college and the community.”

Baseball Head Coach Announced
Brian Reitnour has been named the head coach for baseball and will immediately begin recruiting for the 2011-2012 season. Reitnour has coached baseball for more than 15 years, including seven at the intercollegiate level – most recently at Allegheny College (Meadville, Pa.) where he served as a full-time assistant coach and interim head coach. Additional coaching experience includes two years as a graduate assistant baseball coach at Geneva College (Beaver Falls, Pa.), one year as the assistant baseball coach at Messiah College (Grantham, Pa.) and three years as the varsity baseball coach for First Assembly Christian School (Concord, NC). During the course of his coaching career, Reitnour has helped reinstall a program that had been dormant for several years, took another to its first regional playoff, and rebuilt yet another from its worst statistical season in more than 25 years to a playoff contender. He also played baseball as a member of the men’s varsity baseball team at Messiah College. Reitnour received his bachelor’s degree from Messiah College, his master’s degree from Geneva College and is currently the coordinator of career services at Houghton College.

“I relish the opportunity to create a baseball program that not only competes for championships on the field but, more importantly, offers the opportunity to bring student-athletes to a responsible maturity and enable them to serve greater purposes than their own individual interests,” states Reitnour. “I firmly believe that athletics, when taught in the appropriate context, holds an invaluable place within a liberal arts education and can positively mold and shape the lives of those involved with them.”

Application For NCAA D-III Membership
The addition of these two programs will assist Houghton College in meeting the standards of sports offerings for NCAA D-III membership – a move that is in the exploratory stages of consideration. The determining factors for Houghton deciding to apply for NCAA D-III membership include the college’s ability to identify a conference that fits it academically, geographically and aligns with the college’s athletic emphasis on the development of character and leadership. Alignment with a well-respected NCAA D-III conference within the college’s geographic area would provide Houghton student-athletes with schedules that minimize travel and missed class time.

“The addition of baseball and softball at Houghton not only provide more alternatives for both athletes and spectators but also enhance the contribution of athletics to our overall educational environment,” remarks Shirley A. Mullen, President of Houghton College. “Athletics contributes to Houghton’s educational goals of developing the whole person, pursuing excellence, cultivating self discipline and team building, creating and sustaining community, and stewarding one’s gifts and abilities to serve others.” Mullen states that, “Adding these sports is part of our preparation to seriously explore a move from NAIA to NCAA D-III assuming we are able to find a conference in DIII that shares our commitment to an athletic program embedded within a larger educational philosophy of academic rigor and character development.”

Final Considerations
If a determination is made to seek membership in the NCAA D-III, the application deadline is June 1, 2011.

A search is currently underway for the position of softball head coach – interested candidates should contact Harold “Skip” Lord, director of athletics at Houghton College via e-mail at Harold(dot)lord(at)houghton(dot)edu.

At Houghton College, we prepare our students to become global contributors empowered by a challenging education, taught in a vibrant community, and grounded in a relevant faith-based context. The college of 1,200 students is located in Western New York, just 65 miles from Rochester and Buffalo. For more information, please visit http://www.houghton.edu.

Contact:
Sharon Myers, Executive Director of Marketing & Communications
PH: 585.567.9559 / Cell: 716.903.9063
sharon(dot)myers(at)houghton(dot)edu

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