Iowa Wesleyan College, located in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, was approved by the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference on Dec. 8 to join the SLIAC pending the school’s acceptance as a provisional NCAA member. The Presidents’ Council meeting took place on Dec. 5 at Principia College in Elsah, Ill.
Iowa Wesleyan must submit an application to the NCAA by Jan. 15 regarding their status as an exploratory member. The college would then need to be accepted as an NCAA provisional member and would then begin SLIAC play in the 2013-2014 academic year.
SLIAC Commissioner Will Wolper said there was dialogue among the Presidents’ Council regarding the vote, and the decision was not quick and easy.
“It was not hours upon hours of dialogue, but it also wasn’t, ‘Here’s the presentation, let’s vote,’” Wolper said. “You look at all the factors, what it means for the spread of our conference in class time and issues like that, so those things needed to be talked about and evaluated.”
Ted Hoef, associated vice president and dean of students for Webster University, said Iowa Wesleyan has a good understanding of the transition process they may undergo, and the consistency the new member can provide.
“One (reason) is that I think they have a good understanding of the transition they are about to go through,” Hoef said. “No. 2 is the consistency of what Iowa Wesleyan is about and the rest of the members of the SLIAC. I think it’s a good fit. The president’s (Iowa Wesleyan President Jay Simmons’) presentation drove those points home.”
If accepted, Iowa Wesleyan would become the 10th SLIAC member, the newest since Spalding University in 2009. Hoef said Iowa Wesleyan’s admittance would give SLIAC sports an automatic qualifier for NCAA Division III tournaments in more sports such as men’s golf.
“The NCAA has rules about how many schools must sponsor a particular sport within a conference so that the conference champion is automatically qualified (AQ) into the national tournament,” Hoef said.
“If you talk to most of our student athletes, they compete not only for the love of the sport, but also they want to see their success rewarded with being able to advance to the national tournament if they’re good enough to do so. The AQ is just a very important thing for our student athletes, for our coaching staff. It’s also helpful in the recruitment process.”
Iowa Wesleyan received a majority vote of 3/4 approval from the Presidents’ Council meaning at least seven of the SLIAC’s nine presidents voted in favor of the school’s membership. Wolper reiterated that getting to 10 members was one of the conference’s goals.
“There are a significant number of benefits from a scheduling standpoint and a stability standpoint,” Wolper said. “(It) allows for greater competition within the conference with the addition of (more) conference contests per year, which is truly the focus of NCAA Division III — in-conference competition. It helps us strengthen our dedication toward that.”