MILWAUKEE, Wis. (naccsports.org) --- The Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC), a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III member, announced today that founding commissioner Dr. G. Steven Larson will retire at the conclusion of the 2019-2020 academic year after 14 years leading the conference.
Larson has overseen the Conference since its inaugural year in 2006, assuming the commissioner's role after 20 years as Director of Athletics and Head Men's Basketball Coach at Edgewood College, which included 11 years as commissioner of the Lake Michigan Conference (LMC).
The NACC began with 12 member institutions in Illinois and Wisconsin – Alverno College, Aurora University, Benedictine University, Concordia University Chicago, Concordia University Wisconsin, Dominican University, Edgewood College, Lakeland University, Maranatha Baptist University, Marian University, Rockford University, and Wisconsin Lutheran College. Larson facilitated changes and growth of the NACC with the departure of Maranatha and the additions of full-time members Milwaukee School of Engineering (2007), Illinois Institute of Technology (2018) and St. Norbert College (2021) and associate members Eureka College in football (2018) and Mount Mary University in women's cross country (2015). The addition of St. Norbert will give the NACC 14 full-time members, making it the fourth-largest NCAA Division III conference in the nation. Rebecca Sherrick, President of Aurora University and Past President of the NACC noted, "Steve Larson played a vital leadership role in the formation of the NACC and continued to spearhead our growth over the years that he has served as commissioner."
The NACC sponsors 19 intercollegiate sports for men and women, with men's and women's lacrosse to be added in the spring of 2021. "Steve has done a great job of helping the members identify growing sports within the NCAA and making more championship opportunities available within the conference for our student-athletes," said Andrew Manion, President of Marian University and current President of the NACC's Council of Chief Executive Officers. "He's also been very active in leadership at the national level within the NCAA."
Larson has held several leadership positions within the NCAA Division III governance structure, serving as president of the Division III Commissioners Association (DIIICA) and the National Association of Division III Athletic Administrators (NADIIIAA), chair of the NCAA Division III Men's Basketball Committee, and a member of the NCAA Division III Convention Planning Subcommittee.
"It has been an honor and privilege to serve for and with the dedicated NACC student-athletes, administrators, coaches, coordinators of officials, and conference office staff in addition to my colleagues in the DIIICA and the NCAA staff," said Larson. "While it has truly been an enjoyable and rewarding experience, my retirement will afford me the opportunity to spend more time with my family."
Prior to joining the NACC, Larson was a Hall of Fame coach at Edgewood, directing the Eagles to 362 victories, six Lake Michigan Conference regular-season titles, five LMC tournament crowns, and nine national tournament appearances. His teams posted a winning record in each of his 20 seasons at the helm. Larson was recognized with eight District Coach of the Year and six LMC Men's Basketball Coach of the Year honors, and has been inducted into the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Hall of Fame and the athletics halls of fame at Edgewood College and Neenah-Menasha (Wis.) St. Mary Central.
Larson received the WBCA Award of Excellence in recognition of 500 combined prep and collegiate victories and was honored with the Distinguished Service (2012) and Service Appreciation (2015) awards by the DIIICA. He also served as the first women's golf coach at Edgewood, guiding the fledgling program through its first two seasons, which included winning an LMC title and earning another LMC Coach of the Year award.
Joining Larson in retirement will be Deb Larson, who has served as the administrative assistant for the NACC since its inception and for the LMC for 11 years prior to that.
"We are grateful for Steve's many years of leadership for our conference. He has been such a strong advocate for the NACC and has played a key role in advancing athletics for our students from the very beginning," said Patrick Ferry, President of Concordia University Wisconsin and past president of the conference. Manion added, "He will leave the conference bigger and stronger than he found it. We wish the very best for Deb and Steve as they transition into their well-earned retirement."
Larson's final day will be July 31, 2020. The NACC will conduct a national search to identify the next conference commissioner.