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Missouri Baptist will join the Heart of America Conference as an associate member in football beginning Fall 2023

SAINT LOUIS (April 29, 2022)–The Heart of America Athletic Conference is pleased to announce the addition of the Missouri Baptist University football program as an Associate Member to the conference.

Missouri Baptist will join the Heart in the sport of football in the fall of 2023.

“The Heart of America takes pride in the strength of our institutions and its athletics programs and I am so pleased that Missouri Baptist will be joining the Heart as an Associate Member in the sport of football,” said Heart Commissioner Lori Thomas. “Missouri Baptist is a great institution in the NAIA both in commitment to community and enriching students’ lives for the better.”

The Spartans began its football program in the fall of 2014, and are led by head coach Jason Burianek, who has been the head coach at MBU for the entirety of the program’s history.

Missouri Baptist plays its home games at Spartan Field on the MBU campus in St. Louis, Mo.

The Spartans will join the Heart South Division with fellow teams, Central Methodist University, Baker University, Missouri Valley College, Benedictine College and MidAmerica Nazarene University.

The Heart North Division consists of Grand View, Culver-Stockton, Peru State, William Penn, Clarke and Graceland.

Missouri Baptist is also an Associate Member in the Heart of America Athletic Conference in the sport of men’s volleyball. Institutions may join a conference for a sport as an associate member if their home conference does not sponsor that specific sport, as the Spartans’ home conference is the American Midwest Conference.

“We want to thank the MSFA for the opportunity to be a part of such a successful conference as a brand new program back in 2014,” said Missouri Baptist Associate Vice President & Director of Athletics Dr. Tom Smith. “The growth of this football program has been exciting to watch and joining the Heart of America Athletic Conference is just another step in the right direction. The Heart offers a competitive schedule year in year out with its strong history and tradition while minimizing travel time for our student-athletes. This move makes perfect sense for our future goals as a program.”

About the Heart:

Founded in 1971, the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart) marked its 50th year during the 2020-21 season and continues to serve as one of the premier conferences in the NAIA. All 14 conference schools are members of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

The conference has continued to expand with the total number of teams growing to 14 when competition began for the 2020-21 school year. The 2015-16 season saw Grand View University and William Penn begin full membership in the Heart, while Clarke University and Mount Mercy University joined the competition for the 2016-17 seasons. The most recent addition to the conference was Park University, who effectively became a member in the 2020-21 season. 

The commissioner of the conference is Lori Thomas, who was named commissioner prior to the 2014-15 school year, and is the first female commissioner in the history of the NAIA.