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 40 years.

The charter members of the GLIAC 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 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, both located in Erie, Pennsylvania. 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 entered a new era during the 2009-10 academic year. Commissioner Tom Brown, who had presided over the league for 17 years, retried on June 30, 2009. The longest serving commissioner in the history of the GLIAC, Brown expanded the conference from 10 full members to 14 full members and two associate members. Also under his leadership, the c

onference has grown to offering championships in 21 sports while rising to prominence on the national level as 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 expand on July 1, 2012 when Malone University and Walsh University, both located in the Canton, Ohio area, become the 15th and 16th GLIAC members.

The policy-making body of the GLIAC is the Management Council, which is comprised of three representatives from each member institution – its director of athletics, faculty athletics representative and senior woman administrator.

The presidency of the GLIAC Management Council is rotated alphabetically by school, with Forest Karr, Director of Athletics at Northern Michigan University, serving as GLIAC President in 2013-14. Dr. David Haynes, President of Northern Michigan University, will serve as the chairperson of the GLIAC Presidents Council this year.

The GLIAC made history when it hired Dell Robinson as Commissioner. Robinson became the first ethnic minority to serve as D-II commissioner of a non-historically black college or

university conference when he began his duties on July 1, 2009.

Assisting Robinson are: Jeff Ligney, Assoc. Commissioner, Danielle Harris, Asst. Commissioner for Compliance/Championships; Kris Hengesbach, Director of Internal Operations; Mike McCann, 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; Linda Strapp, Supervisor of Women’s lacrosse officials; Bill Gomoluch Supervisor of Softball Umpires, and Rich Fetchiet, Assignor of Baseball Umpires.

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