The University of Alaska Fairbanks, along with five other institutions in the intercollegiate rifle community, announced Wednesday the establishment of the Patriot Rifle Conference, which will begin league matches effective at the beginning of the 2013-14 season.
The Nanooks, who have never had a conference affiliation, are joined in the six-team conference by charter members U.S. Air Force Academy, Nevada, Ohio State, Texas Christian and Texas-El Paso. Two of the teams have combined to win 12 NCAA national championships, as Alaska has 10 titles while TCU has two. To become a member of the PRC, an institution must have a varsity rifle program, recognized by the NCAA.
“I haven’t been a part of a conference in the past because of logistical issues and timing of conference championships,” Alaska head coach Dan Jordan said. “With all the schools being out west and being aware of travel constraints it fits with all of us and makes sense to get together into one.”
The conference will include head-to-head matches throughout the season as well as a conference championship, which is scheduled for Feb. 8-9, 2014, in Columbus, Ohio, on the campus of Ohio State. The PRC will be led by commissioner Launi Meili, who currently serves as head coach at Air Force.
“We are very excited about the Patriot Rifle Conference,” Meili said in the official PRC press release. “The PRC will give our student-athletes a home of their own to compete in with a championship to look forward to.”
“Air Force really kicked off the discussion with a few teams and we got involved with it,” Jordan said. “It seems like a lot of high-quality teams, making showings at the NCAA Championship, so it should be good competition and a good group.”
Member institutions will compete at home or away with the other conference-affiliated teams during one season and teams will reciprocate home and away matches the following year. In addition, the conference championship will be rotated between member institutions each year.
“It gets the shooters one more high-level competition and that extra level that will help prepare them for NCAAs,” Jordan said. “It’s going to be nice because we’ll see teams like Ohio State, TCU and Air Force that will be at the NCAA meet also, so it’s a good chance to go head-to-head with them.”
The purpose of the PRC is to provide its member institutions the benefits of an intercollegiate athletic conference; to promote rifle competition among similar institutions, which provides for matches and championships; promote equal competition through agreed upon conference standards; promote the NCAA Rifle program; enhance the competition for greater media and public exposure; and promote the development of intercollegiate athletics as an integral part of the curriculum of the member institutions.