The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference

The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), founded in 1972, has been a leader in the advancement and promotion of intercollegiate athletics for men and women for 49 years.

The charter members of the GLIAC (pronounced GLEE-ack) were Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, Lake Superior State University, Northwood University (then Institute), and Saginaw Valley State University.
Expansion of the GLIAC began immediately with the addition of Oakland University in 1974. Hillsdale College, Northern Michigan University, and Wayne State University were accepted as members in 1975. In 1977, the conference lost its first member when Northern Michigan withdrew. Michigan Technological University filled the vacancy when it became a member in 1980.  After the 1986-87 season, Northwood left the conference and was replaced by Northern Michigan. Northwood rejoined the conference in 1992.

After the 1989 season, the conference dropped football as a sponsored sport. The conference schools sponsoring football joined the members of the Heartland Collegiate Conference in forming the football-only Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference (MIFC), which began play in 1990.

After nine years as one of the premier conferences in Division II football, the MIFC merged as part of GLIAC on July 1, 1999. With the merger, the University of Indianapolis became an associate member as a football-only school.

The GLIAC Commissioners

John Hoekje

1971-72 to 1978-79

Herbert “Pete” Peterson

1979-80 to 1984-85

Tom Donahue

1985-86 to 1986-87

Vern Norris

1987-88 to 1991-92

Tom Brown

1992-93 to 2008-09

Dell Robinson

2009-10 to 2015-16

Kris Dunbar 2017-18 to present

The GLIAC entered a new era in the 1995-96 school year. Prior to that time, all GLIAC member institutions were located in the state of Michigan. On Dec. 14, 1994, membership was offered to Ashland University of Ashland, Ohio, and Gannon University and Mercyhurst College located in Erie, Pa. All three schools began their membership July 1, 1995.

On July 1, 1997, membership was granted to The University of Findlay, located in Findlay, Ohio. UF replaced Oakland University, which withdrew from the conference after the 1996-97 season as it moved to NCAA Division I status.

The GLIAC membership changed again when Tiffin University of Ohio joined the conference in the 2008-09 academic year. Tiffin was offered membership on June 20, 2007. The addition of Tiffin left the GLIAC with 12 full-time members as Gannon and Mercyhurst moved to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference after the 2007-08 season.

The GLIAC's longest-serving commissioner, Tom Brown, who had presided over the league for 17 years, retired on June 30, 2009. Brown expanded the conference from 10 full members to 14 full members and two associate members. Also under his leadership, the conference grew to offering championships in 21 sports while rising to prominence on the national level. GLIAC teams and student-athletes have achieved success both in the classroom and on the fields of play.

The Conference expanded on July 1, 2010, when Lake Erie College of Painesville, Ohio, and Ohio Dominican University, located in Columbus, joined the GLIAC. The League expanded further on July 1, 2012, with the addition of Malone University and Walsh University, both located in Canton, Ohio. Beginning in 2017-18, the Conference welcomed Davenport University and Purdue University Northwest to the membership. Davenport and Purdue Northwest, who were former NAIA affiliates, achieved full NCAA DII status on July 12, 2019. Accordingly, Findlay, Hillsdale, Lake Erie, Ohio Dominican and Walsh withdrew from the conference at that time. In 2018-19, the University of Wisconsin-Parkside became full GLIAC members as Tiffin departed. Ashland departed following the 2019-20 academic year, and Northwood will leave in 2021.

The policy-making body of the GLIAC is the Management Council, which is comprised of three representatives from each member institution (director of athletics, faculty athletics representative and senior woman administrator). Presidents from each member institution make up the GLIAC Council of Presidents, which serves as an advisory role to the Management Council and oversees the GLIAC commissioner. The presidency of the GLIAC Management Council and chairperson of the GLIAC Presidents Council are rotated alphabetically by school. Paul Lowden, Director of Athletics at Davenport University, serves as GLIAC President. Richard Pappas, Davenport University's President, is chairperson of the GLIAC President's Council in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

The GLIAC made history when it hired Dell Robinson as Commissioner. Robinson became the first ethnic minority to serve as DII commissioner of a non-historically black college or university conference when he began his duties on July 1, 2009 and served through June 2016. Kris Dunbar, formerly director of athletics at Lake Superior State University, joined the GLIAC as its seventh commissioner in May of 2017.

The GLIAC staff consists of: Kris Dunbar, Commissioner; Michael Pierce, Associate Commissioner for Compliance; John Regenfuss, Assistant Commissioner; Josh Pickler, Assistant Commissioner; Bill Carollo Supervisor of Football Officials; Kim Vieira, Supervisor of Soccer Officials; Jeanne Skinner, Supervisor of Volleyball Officials; Rob Doss, Supervisor of Women’s Basketball Officials; Bill Ek, Supervisor of Men’s Basketball Officials; MJ Evagash, Supervisor of Women’s Lacrosse Officials; Bill Gomoluch Supervisor of Softball Umpires, and Bruce Doane, Supervisor of Baseball Umpires.