WICHITA, Kan. — With the addition of Evangel University as a full-member school in 2023, the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) now has 12 football-playing institutions and will move to a two-division format starting this upcoming season. The conference office is proud to announce that the divisions will be named after two legendary coaches from the conference, Dr. Ted Kessinger and Franklin “Gene” Bissell.
“It is my privilege to make this formal announcement today honoring two legendary KCAC football coaches who contributed greatly to the game they loved and to the student-athletes they impacted positively over the course of their careers,” Dr. Scott Crawford, KCAC commissioner, stated. “We are proud to name the new KCAC football divisions after Dr. Ted Kessinger and Mr. Gene Bissell.”
Dr. Kessinger coached at Bethany College for 28 seasons (1976-2003), winning 219 games, 16 conference championships, and 10 appearances in the NAIA Playoffs. His 219 wins rank No. 7 all-time in the NAIA. Kessinger was the KCAC Coach of the Year 11 times, and never suffered a losing season while at the helm of the Swedes. Kessinger was inducted into the Bethany College Athletics Hall of Honor in 1999, the NAIA Hall of Fame in 2003, the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2005, and the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 2010.
“I am honored to be mentioned alongside Coach Bissell in the naming of these divisions,” Dr. Kessinger remarked. “My family and I are thankful that the conference appreciates what our players and coaches did in the past, and we’re looking forward to the KCAC continuing to be one of the quality conferences in the NAIA.”
Bissell was the head coach at Kansas Wesleyan University for 26 years, winning 116 games. The Coyotes won the KCAC Football conference title four times in his time as the head coach. Bissell was inducted into the Kansas Wesleyan Coyote Hall of Fame in 1986, the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1991, and the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2019. Coach Bissell passed away in 2016.
“My father would be so honored to have a football division named after him in the KCAC,” Nancy Tehrune, Bissell’s daughter, said. “He loved the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.”
The divisions are set for the 2023 and 2024 seasons. The divisions for those seasons are as follows:
- Dr. Ted Kessinger Division
- Bethany College
- Bethel College
- Evangel University
- Friends University
- McPherson College
- Southwestern College
- Franklin “Gene” Bissell Division
- Avila University
- Kansas Wesleyan University
- Ottawa University
- Sterling College
- Tabor College
- University of Saint Mary
To set the 2023 and 2024 Divisions, the KCAC utilized total conference wins over the 2020 and 2021 seasons by all KCAC programs. Institutions were then placed into divisions using a snaking method to competitively balance the divisions.
Divisional makeup will be reset every two years to maintain a competitive balance within and between each division.
The 2025 and 2026 divisional makeup will utilize conference wins from the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Teams will be placed into each division using a snaking method based on their overall conference wins.
Each team will play all 11 conference opponents each season. In the 2023 season, cross-division play will begin on August 26 (Week 1), followed by a uniform bye week. Division play will then begin on October 14.
To see the conference football schedule that has been approved for the 2023 and 2024 seasons, click here.