The board of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association voted unanimously Wednesday afternoon to invite Fort Hays State University to join the conference as a replacement for the University of Missouri-Rolla.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, emphasized that FHSU had not made a final decision, but he said it was necessary to officially withdraw from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference because of the deadline required in the RMAC bylaws.
After receiving the invitation, Hammond and Curtis Hammeke, FHSU athletic director, met with the board of the FHSU Athletic Association. Following discussion with the board, President Hammond immediately sent a letter to J.R. Smith, RMAC commissioner. The letter stated in part:
" The purpose of this letter is to provide you formal notice of Fort Hays State University?s withdrawal from the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference (RMAC) pursuant to Section 104-3A of our bylaws. We have received a formal invitation from the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) and we are moving ahead to provide due diligence on the review of that invitation.
" Due to the late date of the invitation and the RMAC bylaws which stipulate that we are required to provide notice by October 1, this letter is necessary. Fort Hays State University has not made a decision to accept the MIAA invitation. We need time to discuss this change and its impact on our athletic program.
" If we make a decision to withdraw from the RMAC, it is our intent to fulfill all requirements and commitments to the RMAC. This would mean that Fort Hays State University would be a member of the RMAC until fall 2006. If we decide to not accept the invitation, we will seek to rescind our notice of withdrawal in a timely fashion."
The president said he asked Smith to assure all the RMAC presidents that Fort Hays State University would do everything it could not to hurt the RMAC in its process of deliberations, and that FHSU would fulfill all its requirements and obligations to the conference.
Hammeke said FHSU officials considered it fortunate to receive the invitation. "It's a luxury to have two conferences interested in having us as a member," he said.
Rumors about an MIAA invitation to FHSU have been circulating since Missouri-Rolla officials notified the MIAA in June that it would resign from the conference at the conclusion of the 2004-05 academic year.
That leaves nine universities in the MIAA, all located in the states of Kansas and Missouri: Central Missouri State, Emporia State, Missouri Southern, Missouri Western, Northwest Missouri State, Pittsburg State, Southwest Baptist, Truman State and Washburn. Missouri-Rolla has accepted an invitation to join the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
In addition to FHSU, current members of the RMAC include Chadron State College, Colorado Christian University, Colorado School of Mines, Metropolitan State College of Denver, Regis University, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Adams State College, Colorado State University at Pueblo, Fort Lewis College, Mesa State College, New Mexico Highlands University, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs and Western State College.