Effective July 1, 2018, Little Priest Tribal College will be a full-time member of the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference.
Earlier this year, the ICCAC Presidents approved to admit Little Priest as a full-time member. Every new member of the ICCAC must allow a two-year provisionary period before full admittance.
"The ICCAC have a longstanding tradition of supporting and developing high levels of excellence with our student-athletes both on and off of the field," Iowa Valley Community College Chancellor and ICCAC Executive Committee President Dr. Chris Duree stated.
"We applaud Little Priest Tribal College for their achievement of building their athletic programs in a manner that will not only complement our member institutions, but also help sustain the professional integrity of our ICCAC as a whole. On the behalf of our Executive Committee, it is an honor and privilege to welcome Little Priest to the ICCAC!"
Little Priest, an accredited college of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and supported by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, began athletics in the fall of 2014. However, due to high turnover in their athletic department, cycling through multiple athletic directors and coaches, the provisionary period was extended another two years.
As of late, under the leadership and guidance of athletic director Keith Hanks, Little Priest has established competitive teams in men's and women's basketball.
"We have changed in many ways," Hanks said. "The biggest emphasis when I arrived was to meet and exceed all of the expectations of the ICCAC and NJCAA."
Little Priest hired two coaches, Kyle Cooper (men's basketball) and Leonard Erickson (women's basketball) both of who came from other coaching staffs (NIACC and Southwestern) in the ICCAC.
"We hired first class coaches that know how work in the junior college system." Hanks continued. "It has led to better recruitment of players. We also changed our game procedures along with travel and other operational procedures."
Starting in 2018, Little Priest will be allowed to vote on athletic issues at the presidential level as well as be included in the Division II men's and women's basketball conference schedules. They are also looking to add men's and women's cross country, golf and sport shooting programs in the future.
With the addition of sports, Little Priest hopes to continue to add improvements to facilities and increase student housing to hold over 100 athletes over the next few years.
Hanks and the college are humbled to be accepted into the conference.
"It means a great deal to Little Priest Tribal College, as it helps with recruiting the best athletes in our area," said Hanks.
"It also puts our college in our native community as one of the few native based junior colleges in the country. We are looking forward to growing nationwide with our institution."
Next to Little Priest's addition, the most recent schools to join the conference have been Dakota County Technical College (2017 - men's & women's soccer only), Hawkeye Community College (2015) and Northeast (Neb.) Community College (2012).