Mississippi College | Beacon Magazine

Choctaw Sports Round-Up

Choctaw Sports Round-Up

MC Rejoins NCAA Division II

Mississippi College is moving back to NCAA Division II play and the Gulf South Conference (GSC).

MC was a respected member of the GSC from 1972 to 1996. In the fall of 2014, the Choctaws will once again take the field against former GSC rivals, including West Alabama, Valdosta State, and North Alabama, as well as former in-state rival Delta State University. Others in the Gulf South Conference athletic lineup include Shorter University in Rome, Georgia; Union University in Jackson, Tennessee; the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Florida; and Christian Brothers in Memphis, Tennessee.

Mississippi College fans around the South will be able to tune to CSS stations for cable TV broadcasts of Gulf South Conference football games of the week. The TV coverage reaches some eight million homes in the region, and means added exposure and awareness for MC.

For the MC Choctaws, there’s no better Time to Be II. Learn more at

"Mississippi College will have the chance to compete for conference championships. That is our goal and our plan." - John Bland, Head Football Coach

Choctaw Fans Cheer New Football Coach John Bland

John Bland is ready to hit the recruiting trail and the field as the Choctaws new head football coach.

A success as head coach of the University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky, Bland is well positioned to lead MC as the university transitions to NCAA Division II and rejoins the Gulf South Conference (GSC). A former Arkansas Razorbacks quarterback and head coach at the University of Southern Arkansas, Bland didn’t hesitate when he told reporters the GSC “is the best Division II conference in the country.” Rejoining the GSC in fall 2014, Mississippi College will “have the chance to compete for conference championships,” Bland said. “That is our goal and our plan.”

Over the past eight seasons, Bland compiled a strong record of 70-21 as head coach of the University of the Cumberlands Patriots. During his tenure, the Patriots won the Mid-South Conference championship five times. In December 2013, Bland led the Patriots to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national championship game, capping a 13-1 season.

MC Athletic Director Mike Jones and a university committee led the search for the new Choctaw head coach. Bland was chosen from more than 40 outstanding candidates.

“John Bland exemplifies everything we were searching for,” Jones said. “He is someone who meets the mission of Mississippi College and is a proven winner. His strength in recruiting includes choosing student athletes who are not only fine players, but people of character.” 

MC to Unveil the Mike Rice Baseball Field House

Named in honor of a prominent Alabama businessman and Mississippi College trustee who once led the Gulf South Conference in home runs, the new Mike Rice Baseball Field House will add sparkle to the Choctaws dynamic program on the diamond.

Scheduled for completion in May 2014, the 2,500-square-foot facility will include a locker room, coaches’ offices, training facilities, and equipment storage space. The facility is named for Mike Rice ’77, a power hitter who was among the national collegiate leaders in home runs and led the GSC in doubles and triples. Rice was inducted into the MC Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. The president of Master Boat Builders in Coden, Alabama, Rice contributed a major gift that made the enhanced MC baseball complex a reality.

“The Rice baseball facility will be an enormous asset as MC seeks to recruit top student athletes regionally and nationally,” said Steve Stanford, MC vice president for

administration and government relations. “With Mississippi College in the process of rejoining the Gulf South Conference and NCAA Division II ranks next season, this complex will be a wonderful addition to the Clinton campus.” 

David Nichols

American Southwest Conference Honors David Nichols and the MC Sports Information Team

Assistant Athletic Director for Athletic Communications/ Sports Information David Nichols ’06, ’08 devotes an incredible amount of energy,

talent, and time to promoting the 15 NCAA sports in play at Mississippi College. The American Southwest Conference (ASC) recognized his efforts, honoring Nichols and Mississippi College’s sports information department as the best in the conference for 2012-2013.

Nichols said he feels blessed to be serving his alma mater, and emphasized that he’s thankful to be working with an extraordinary staff, including sports information graduate assistant Whitney Vance, communication professor and Choctaws announcer Reid Vance, photographer Aaron Boersma, and student assistant Brandon Spain.

“It is truly an honor for our department to be given this award,” Nichols said. “This would not have been possible without the outstanding work done by Whitney, Reid, Aaron and Brandon last year.”

Nichols juggles many assignments, from interviewing student athletes to producing sports media guides, from logging statistics to handling social media. He also oversees all game-day media operations, manages press boxes at home events, and runs MC’s athletics website,

According to Reid Vance, “The hours on the job are long and often inconvenient and the long road trips run from August to May, but David produces work all Choctaws can be proud of.”

Nichols served as a graduate assistant and the No. 2 man in the Choctaws athletic department under former sports information director Chris Brooks from 2006 to 2010 before assuming his current position.

Nichols and his colleagues “have raised our sports information department to the highest level,” said Athletic Director Mike Jones. “With MC moving back into Division II, the sports information team can look forward to a greater level of excitement and an even brighter spotlight on Choctaw sports.”