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 by the women’s basketball team against their crosstown rivals from Briar Cliff University. Then, just before the tip off of the men’s game, the announcer heralded “one of Morningside’s biggest fans.”
The reference was to outgoing Morningside University President John Reynders who received a standing ovation from fellow fans recognizing his induction into the NAIA Hall of Fame in the past year. With his wife Betty at his left, Reynders stood on the court while players from the women’s team held up a banner which listed his tenure and the reason for his inclusion in the hall of fame: “meritorious service.”
According to the announcer, Reynders’ tireless work over more than 20 years, helped to make Morningside “the best side.” With that, the college’s head then filed off.
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A successor to Jerry Israel, Reynders was named the 12th president of Morningside University in 1999. Early into his tenure, the former vice president of finance at Allegheny College, a Division III school in Meadville, Pa., made the decision to move Mustangs sports out of NCAA Division II and into the NAIA. Since that time, the Mustangs have won four national championships in women’s basketball, three national championships in football in a four-year span and a number of individual titles. The athletic department has also grown from offering 12 sports to 28 sports in 2019.
Along with athletic growth, the school more broadly has seen expansion too. Enrollment for 2001 sat at 744 in 2001. 15 years later, that figure had climbed to 1,329. Morningside now boasts more than 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: all-time Kansas City Royals win leader Paul Splittorff, former Mustangs baseball coach Don Protextor and A.W. Buckingham who served as Morningside’s athletic director for 24 years.
The induction isn’t the only recent honor for Reynders. In Sept. 2021, the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce presented its annual “W. Edwards Deming Business Leadership and Entrepreneurial Excellence Award” to Reynders for his “exceptional vision, outstanding leadership, and the positive impact” he has had at the private four-year college, as well as the broader tri-state region.
Reynders will retire at the end of June as the longest-sitting president and Dr. Albert Mosley will then take over.
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.