Some have argued Hillsdale College left the GLIAC because Hillsdale’s athletic programs couldn’t compete. Hillsdale’s 40-plus-year history in the GLIAC proves otherwise.
For instance, in 2017, both men’s and women’s track and field finished second in the GLIAC, while several other programs posted impressive seasons.
Junior Joel Pietila won the 2017 GLIAC Men’s Golf Individual, while the second-year men’s tennis team finished fourth in the GLIAC. Junior Justin Hyman and sophomore Charlie Adams ranked the No. 8 doubles team in the region.
One only has to scan past achievements to see that Hillsdale holds GLIAC records and awards in sports across the board.
In 2016, Kyle Cooper was the GLIAC Men’s Basketball Player of the Year. Luke Ortel won the Player of the Year honor in baseball in that year, as well, setting the conference record for hits in a season, while leading the team to the NCAA tournament. Katie Cezat won the GLIAC Women’s Basketball Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009 — averaging 29 points and 17 rebounds a game to lead the 2009 GLIAC champions. Last year, Emily Oren shattered the GLIAC steeplechase record.
Three different Hillsdale players received four GLIAC Volleyball Player of the Year honors from 2006-2011.
Three Hillsdale football players won GLIAC Player of the Year in six years, and the Chargers currently have two players starting in the NFL.
“If you were to rank the [reasons for leaving] from 1-10, and this was on the list at all, it would probably be right at the bottom,” said Brad Monastiere, assistant athletic director for media relations and event management.
Hillsdale athletics have consistently stood out in the region and even competed nationally.
Emily Oren was a nine-time national champion in women’s track. The teams she was a part of consistently placed on the podium on a national level.
Two years ago, women’s cross country was ranked first in the nation during the regular season.
“That’s a first for us, to have a team that got ranked No. 1 in a Division II poll, and yet it happened within the two-year window that we gave our notice and is another shot to the theory that we can’t deal with the competition,” Monastiere said.
Hillsdale volleyball has qualified for the NCAA tournament nine times, which requires an outstanding season and a top eight spot in the region.
“When someone wants to point to competition [as a reason for leaving], it just simply isn’t true,” Monastiere said. “If it was, where is our 1-10 football season where we bottomed out and got crushed by everyone? That hasn’t happened.”
In fact, it hasn’t happened in any sport.
If Hillsdale left the GLIAC because they could not compete, embarrassing records would have preceded the announcement in 2015.
Between volleyball and men’s basketball, Hillsdale finished under .500 just one season in the past 10 years.
From 2003-2017, women’s track and field placed in the top five all but two seasons.
From 2007-2012, Hillsdale won at least seven football games every year, and only had two losing seasons from 2005-2015. They also won the GLIAC in 2011, and have all-time winning records against 13 of 16 GLIAC teams.
“I’m not saying we dominated the GLIAC, but we were never a doormat to anybody — going back to when we joined the conference in the 70s,” Monastiere said.
Other teams may hold more conference titles, but Hillsdale has consistently finished in the top half of the GLIAC and boasts impressive records.
Softball has won 20 or more games for four consecutive years. Two years ago, the team was picked 10th in the preseason poll and finished third in the regular season.
From 2007-2009, Hillsdale went 50-9 in women’s basketball and has continued to impress since.
If a school limps away from a conference dragging last place records, then they probably just couldn’t compete. Hillsdale has no such records.