The St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference is on pace to grow to 10 members as Iowa Wesleyan College (IWC) progresses toward NCAA membership.
The school, located in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, has an undergraduate enrollment of about 850 students and has 12 intercollegiate sports. The IWC Tigers are currently an NAIA Division-II member and are in the Midwest Collegiate Conference.
There are currently nine members of the SLIAC, with Webster Univesrity being a 1989 charter member.
IWC submitted its application for exploratory NCAA membership in January. The NCAA, whose headquarters are located in Indianapolis, must accept schools applying for membership. Once accepted, the institution must complete an exploratory academic year, which in IWC’s case is 2012-2013.
Linda Buchanan, vice president and dean for Student Life at IWC, said IWC will attend a meeting in Indianapolis regarding its exploratory year on Wednesday, Sept. 19.
“Sept. 19 is really the official kickoff of our exploratory period,” Buchanan said. “And we’re very much looking forward to that meeting.”
After the initial exploratory year, IWC would have to participate in a provisional year. SLIAC Commissioner Will Wolper said not only is IWC fulfilling requirements, but it is doing so quickly.
“They are meeting all the requirements that are required of exploratory members,” Wolper said. “In fact, they are going to use the exploratory year to, as much as possible, complete all the requirements of provisional year one so they can try to stay a year ahead.”
Buchanan said the NCAA will provide IWC with more details at the meeting on Sept. 19. This would be the next step in transitioning to the NCAA from the NAIA, a process which could take up to five years.
“Our hope and our intent is to do everything to the letter of the NCAA law, so to speak, and earn a waiver year or two,” Buchanan said. “We will do everything as expeditiously and thoroughly as possible and hope for the best in that regard. But, obviously, that’s down the line.”
Webster is scheduled to play the Tigers in two sports — volleyball and softball — this academic year after playing IWC women’s soccer on Sunday, Sept. 16 (see story above). IWC will also go up against other SLIAC schools, which would be nonconference events, in cross-country and men’s golf.
“I’ve had many conversations with them regarding their internal operations that they need to change going forward from NAIA to NCAA,” Wolper said. “They’re really focused on that. From a conference perspective, we’re maintaining contact with them, but there’s no affiliation between the conference and them this year other than a few schools who took it upon themselves to schedule nonconference games against them.”
In other SLIAC news, Spalding University (Ky.) announced Sept. 13 that it is officially an NCAA Division-III member after a six-year transition period. Brian Clinard, Spalding’s sports information director, said the Golden Eagles can now participate in SLIAC championships.