In a unanimous vote Friday (June 1), officials with Conference Carolinas granted Converse College full conference membership status. League officials made the decision during their annual spring meeting at host institution Belmont Abbey College. The conference also announced its name change from Carolinas-Virginia Athletic Conference (CVAC) to Conference Carolinas. Converse has been competing as an affiliate member in the conference since April 2005 and is one of only two women’s colleges in the nation competing at the NCAA Division II level.
Commissioner Alan Patterson asserted, “Converse College has been a tremendous asset to our league and bringing them into Conference Carolinas as a full member is ideal. Converse has fit into our league so well and they will continue to add to our conference and build on the successful history that our members represent.”
As an affiliate member, Converse competed with conference opponents in women’s soccer, cross-country, volleyball and tennis. Full member status enables the college’s basketball program to compete for the conference championship and NCAA Division II tournament. Looking toward the future, Converse plans to expand its athletic programs by 2008-2009 with lacrosse, golf and swimming on the priority list for consideration.
“We are serious about having one of the best intercollegiate athletic programs available to women and have made significant investments towards this end, including the construction of outstanding facilities and the hiring of an excellent athletic director and coaches,” said Converse President Betsy Fleming. “This program is a wonderful opportunity for today’s young women. If you are interested in women’s sports, you need to look at Converse.”
In 2002, Converse opened the Sally Abney Rose Physical Activity Complex. Housed on 16 acres, the complex includes the 29,000 square-foot Weisiger Center with intercollegiate basketball and volleyball courts, physical fitness training rooms, locker rooms, coaches’ offices, and physical education offices. The facility helped draw interest from Conference Carolinas as a host site for conference tournaments. As an affiliate member, Converse was selected to host the conference’s 2006 cross country and volleyball tournaments.
Converse has a firm commitment to building not only a strong athletics program, but also a corps of student-athletes who achieve academically as well as athletically. “Converse is all about balance, and what better exemplifies balanced lives than women who excel both in the classroom and on the playing fields? Our student-athletes are equally committed to both,” said Fleming. The college’s athletes have an average GPA of 3.1. More than half of them (25 student-athletes) earned spots on the conference’s Presidential Honor Roll for 2005-2006. Converse’s volleyball team garnered the 2006 Game Plan ™/AVCA Team Academic Award for their academic success.
Converse athletic director Joy Couch believes that full conference membership positions the program for growth and success. “I came to Converse because of the tremendous potential to build an outstanding women’s intercollegiate athletic program and the administration’s commitment to supporting such an endeavor. Our success in gaining conference membership affirms this decision. We are competing at the highest level of any women’s college in the nation and now are backed by a conference membership, so the field is wide open to become a top player.”