June 9, 2022
Ursuline College's athletic director and a former president have been honored for their instrumental role in the founding of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC) of the NCAA Division II.
Former President Sr. Diana Stano, OSU, PhD, and current Athletic Director Cindy McKnight received the Distinguished Founders Award in recognition of their contributions in the early stages of the conference, which was founded a decade ago. The GMAC now includes 12 private, non-profit member institutions in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, and sponsors 25 conference championship sport offerings.
The two were honored, along with four other founders, at the GMAC’s Spring Awards Banquet on May 24 in Cincinnati, in recognition of their time and service to the formation of the conference, as well as their continued efforts to support the growth of the conference over the past 10 years.
“Once we became a Division II school, we needed a conference to belong to. We talked to a lot of schools that we were with in the NAIA, who were natural partners for us. Sister Diana made hundreds of phone calls, president to president to talk about why this was the right fit. It helped the geographic footprint of the conference, they’re great schools, very strong academics, good athletic programs, it was just a natural fit,” said McKnight about the initial process.
Speaking about the future of the conference Stano said, “We had a vision, we wanted like-minded schools with similar values, that had things in common, and that were private. That is really what drove us in establishing this conference. I hope we continue to be institutions and a conference of very strong values and integrity, because that’s what is needed in the world today.”
Sr. Diana Stano has served many roles at Ursuline. A 1968 alum of the college, she continued on to become a faculty member, department chair, and the first Dean of Graduate Studies, before finally serving 18 years as Ursuline’s president.
Cindy McKnight is the first and only Athletic Director in the college’s history. She played a vital role in the creation of the athletic department in 1999 and its first eleven varsity programs. In 2006-07, she was named the Athletic Director of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.