|Finlandia played Alma in its first-ever intercollegiate football game and now Scots-Lions games will be an annual occurrence.
Photo by Steve Frommell, d3photography.com
The Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association announced today the addition of Finlandia as an affiliate member to the conference for football, beginning with the 2018-19 academic year.
"We are excited to add Finlandia as a football affiliate member to the MIAA," said Penny Allen-Cook, the commissioner of the MIAA. "We feel this addition is in line with the mission of the MIAA and our member schools, and will improve the collegiate experience of our student-athletes. We will continue to partner with the NACC (Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference) in our annual Conference Challenge Series held the third weekend of the season."
The addition of Finlandia will give the MIAA eight institutions that sponsor football, including seven institutions that are part of the MIAA’s current full membership: Adrian, Albion, Alma, Hope, Kalamazoo, Olivet, and Trine. The NACC has been talking about adding an affiliate football member as well, which would keep that challenge series balanced.
The Lions have struggled to find football opponents, and as an independent in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Finlandia is eight hours from its nearest MIAA opponent, Alma. Finlandia has only five games on the schedule for this upcoming season, two of them Division III opponents.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the university and the football program,” said Finlandia athletic director Curtis Wittenberg. “The MIAA is not only the oldest college conference in America, but it is a prestigious conference with a strong football reputation. This affiliate membership will strengthen our young football program and proudly make it so all Michigan's NCAA Division III schools are competing in one conference.”
The addition of Finlandia as an affiliate member is the first for the MIAA since 2007, when Wisconsin Lutheran was an affiliate for football only from 2002-07.