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SUNY-ESF Joins National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics

Five-year plan for athletics will likely lead to additional teams in the next few years

The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has become an official member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The college recently learned that its application for membership has been approved. NAIA, headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., is the governing body for athletic programs at nearly 300 colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. Many NAIA members are smaller colleges like ESF. NAIA membership will provide the guidance and regulatory framework needed to move ESF's existing sports programs from a club sport level to an intercollegiate schedule of competition beginning in the fall of 2010.

"We are pleased to complete the establishment of ESF's first official athletic program," said ESF President Cornelius B. Murphy, Jr. "This is an important step in the expansion of opportunities for our students."

ESF currently has teams in men's and women's soccer, men's and women's cross-country, timber sports (the Woodsmen's team), and men's golf. The college is developing a five-year plan for athletics that will likely lead to additional teams being added in the next few years.

ESF's intercollegiate teams will compete primarily with NAIA and NCAA Division III-level teams from New York and neighboring states. ESF will not offer athletic scholarships. More than 800 ESF students participated in a May 2009 online poll that selected the "Mighty Oaks" as the official name for the college's athletic teams.

Members of the NAIA Council of Presidents met in Kansas City last week and approved membership applications from ESF and three other schools: Benedictine University at Springfield (Ill.), Central Baptist (Ark.) College, and Warren Wilson (N.C.) College.

"The NAIA welcomes these four institutions and looks forward to working with campus leaders to advance character-driven intercollegiate athletics," said John Leavens, NAIA senior vice president for membership services. "I am confident these new members share in the long-held mission of the NAIA to promote the education and development of well-rounded students and productive citizens through intercollegiate athletics."

The NAIA was founded in 1937. The association provides opportunities for more than 45,000 young men and women to achieve academically while competing for the love of the game.