- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Haskell Indian Nations University officials plan to meet with school athletes to determine whether they’ll transfer because the athletics conference the school belongs to is dissolving.

The school announced Thursday that the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference was dissolving because it has only three members and an effort to stabilize it failed.

Haskell will compete independently in the next school year and it is unclear whether the school will join another conference in the future, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (https://bit.ly/1EI7lcT ). The conference’s other two remaining schools, Central Christian College of McPherson, Kansas, and the College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri, also will be independent next year.

Six other teams announced this academic year that they were leaving to join other conferences.

Haskell leaders considered membership in several conferences this year but officials say the process is costly, can take as long as a year and acceptance is not guaranteed.

“We are witnessing a point in history when student athletes at small colleges and universities are unable to compete in intercollegiate athletic conferences based on rising costs and expenses for intercollegiate athletics, the limiting requirements of athletic conferences, financial aid ratio models that place schools such as Haskell at a disadvantage, and limited operating budgets,” Haskell President Venida Chenault said in a statement.

Chenault said Haskell athletes have excelled despite attending a school that does not have the funding, staffing, equipment or facilities of many schools.

Kortney Meat, a sophomore from Kingfisher, Oklahoma, said she and her teammates were initially upset but were told they would still have a chance to play for a national title, although their schedule would be change and they would be playing other independent schools.

“The goal is to get to nationals, every year,” Meat said, adding she’d also miss having a chance to play for conference honors.

Haskell’s football team is already independent. The school also offers men’s and women’s basketball, cross country and track and field teams, men’s golf and women’s softball and volleyball.

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Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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