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Chicagoland collegiate athletic conference
Viterbo University To Become Full CCAC Member Beginning In 2024-25

Viterbo University To Become Full CCAC Member Beginning In 2024-25

CHICAGO --- After a one-year absence, the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference (CCAC) will regain its footprint in the state of Wisconsin with the Tuesday morning announcement of Viterbo University joining the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Midwest-based league beginning with the 2024-25 academic year.  The La Crosse, Wis. school was accepted by a vote of the conference's Executive Committee, led by Judson University President Dr. Gene Crume, at its annual fall meeting last week.

With its acceptance, Viterbo, the only NAIA institution in Wisconsin, becomes just the second school from America's Dairyland to join the CCAC since the league's formation back in 1949.  Cardinal Stritch University was the only previous school from Wisconsin to hold membership until its closing following the Spring, 2023 semester.   

"Viterbo University is honored and excited to join such a prestigious athletic conference as the CCAC," stated Viterbo President Rick Trietley.  "The universities in the CCAC are outstanding academic institutions who are mission-aligned and similar in many ways to Viterbo. 

"Ultimately, it is our student-athletes who will benefit most through reduced travel time and missed classes, as well as opportunities to experience new cities and geographical areas.  We thank the CCAC and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship."

Viterbo, which began intercollegiate sports in 1972 and is currently with the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA), has been an associate member in the CCAC in the sport of men's volleyball since the 2019 campaign and added men's and women's soccer to the portfolio this fall.  With its acceptance as a full member, Viterbo will now add the sports of baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's golf, softball, men's and women's indoor/outdoor track & field and women's volleyball to the list of conference sports.

The league does not sponsor the sports of men's and women's bowling, competitive dance and Esports, which Viterbo also has as part of its 20-sport program.   

"The CCAC is a great fit for our university and our athletics department," noted Barry Fried, Viterbo director of athletics.  "It is a well-known NAIA conference with many schools similar to Viterbo in terms of mission, size and overall profile.  Sport offerings, long-term stability and student-athlete experience were also key factors in pursuing membership."  

The majority of the conference resides in the Chicagoland area with the likes of Governors State University (University Park, Ill.), Judson University (Elgin, Ill.), Olivet Nazarene University (Bourbonnais, Ill.), Roosevelt University (Chicago), Saint Xavier University (Chicago), University of St. Francis (Joliet, Ill.) and Trinity Christian College (Palos Heights, Ill.).  Representing the state of Indiana are Calumet College of St. Joseph (Whiting), Holy Cross College (Notre Dame), Indiana University Northwest (Gary) and Indiana University South Bend.  Davenport, Iowa is home to St. Ambrose University, which became the first school to represent the conference from Iowa when it joined the league at the start of the 2015-16 academic year.

St. Ambrose and Viterbo are old conference mates, having both been a part of the now-defunct Midwest Classic Conference for many years.

"Dr. Crume and I are very excited about Viterbo University coming into the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference," said CCAC Commissioner Jeff Schimmelpfennig.  "Having lost Cardinal Stritch University last year due to closure, it is very much a positive to regain our conference presence in Wisconsin. 

"Under the university leadership of Dr. Trietley and director of athletics Barry Fried, Viterbo University has a very robust athletics program and will be an excellent addition to the conference in terms of quality student-athletes, coaches and teams. "

The groundwork for the now 75-year-old CCAC stemmed from a meeting of baseball coaches in the fall of 1949. Attending that meeting was Kyle Anderson of the University of Chicago, Ed Glancy of Illinois Institute of Technology, George Boyle of Chicago Teachers College (now Northeastern Illinois University) and Les Miller of the University of Illinois-Chicago Navy Pier. Concordia College joined the group and the first sporting event was a baseball tournament on Memorial Day weekend of 1950 at the University of Chicago's Stagg Field.

The men's basketball coaches met in February of 1972 to form their conference sport that started with the 1973-74 season. The original basketball members were Illinois Institute of Technology, then-Saint Xavier College, Northeastern Illinois University, then-University of Illinois-Chicago Circle, Purdue University Calumet, Trinity Christian College and then-College of St. Francis. The conference also added cross country and tennis in the mid-1970's and women's sports in the early 1980's.

The CCAC will boast 12 member schools when the 2024-25 campaign kicks off next August, maintaining its rank as a nationally-prominent conference within the NAIA.  Viterbo will become the 34th school to hold membership in the league since its inception when the V-Hawks join the conference next fall. 

"I would like to personally thank the CCAC presidents and Commissioner Schimmelpfennig for having confidence in Viterbo University and accepting our teams into the conference," added Fried.  "I am looking forward to getting to know the athletics directors and coaches and working with them as we join the conference."

Viterbo was founded back in 1890 as St. Rose Normal School by the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and was formally established as St. Rose Junior College in 1931.  The name of the school was changed to Viterbo College in 1937 and then to Viterbo University when its status changed in 2000.