SIOUX CITY — Saturday afternoon at Allee Gymnasium on the Morningside University campus was one for the fans.
First, the Mustangs faithful were treated to a 75-69 victory for the women’s basketball team over crosstown rivals Briar Cliff University. Then, just before the start of the men’s match, the announcer announced “one of Morningside’s biggest fans”.
The reference was to outgoing Morningside University President John Reynders, who received a standing ovation from other fans acknowledging his induction into the NAIA Hall of Fame last year. With his wife Betty to his left, Reynders stood on the court as the players of the women’s team held up a banner stating his tenure and the reason for his inclusion in the hall of fame: “meritorious service”.
According to the announcer, Reynders’ tireless work for more than 20 years has helped make Morningside “the best team.” With that, the head of the college then withdrew.
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Successor to Jerry Israel, Reynders was named the 12th president of Morningside University in 1999. Early in his term, the former vice president of finance at Allegheny College, a Division III school in Meadville, Pennsylvania, made the decision to move sports from the Mustangs. out of NCAA Division II and into the NAIA. Since then, the Mustangs have won four women’s basketball national championships, three football national championships in four years, and a number of individual titles. The sports department also grew from 12 sports to 28 sports in 2019.
Along with athletic growth, the school has also experienced broader expansion. Enrollment for 2001 was 744 in 2001. 15 years later that figure had risen to 1,329. Morningside now has over 2,400 students.
With his induction, Reynders is the fourth Morningside Mustang to represent the school in the NAIA Hall of Fame. The other three are: Kansas City Royals all-time leader Paul Splittorff, former Mustangs baseball coach Don Protextor and AW Buckingham who served as Morningside’s athletic director for 24 years.
The induction isn’t the only recent honor for Reynders. In September 2021, the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce awarded its “W. Edwards Deming Award for Business Leadership and Entrepreneurial Excellence” to Reynders for his “outstanding vision, outstanding leadership and positive impact” he had the four-year private course. college, as well as the wider tri-state area.
Reynders will retire at the end of June as longest-serving president and Dr. Albert Mosley will take over from there.
Jared McNett is an online editor and reporter for the Sioux City Journal. You can reach him at 712-293-4234 and follow him on Twitter @TwoHeadedBoy98.