Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
MT. PLEASANT - Iowa Wesleyan University has announced its intentions to move back to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) after spending the better part of the last decade in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III.
'The higher education landscape is changing quickly,” said Athletic Director Derek Zander. 'In order to adapt to the needs of our current and future student-athlete needs, Iowa Wesleyan has elected to submit an application to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. I don't think there is one leading reason for this change, there are many factors that led to this decision including increased student engagement and outreach, stronger scholarship opportunities, and the potential for regional competition.”
IW moved out of the NAIA after the 2011-2012 season, leaving the Midwest Collegiate Conference of the NAIA and joining the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC) for the majority of sports, and the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference in football. The Tigers will compete in those conferences in the upcoming 2020-2021 school year, before moving back to the NAIA for the 2021-2022 season.
IW is still looking for a conference to join. The MCC disbanded shortly after IW departed in 2012.
'We are evaluating a few different options, and we will take the necessary steps to provide our student-athletes with the best possible experience that we can,” says Zander.
During its time in the NAIA, IW saw success in a variety of sports. In 2006 and 2009, both the men's and women's basketball teams qualified for the NAIA National Basketball Tournament. Coaching legends Hal Mumme, Mike Leach and Dana Holgorsen were also with the school during its original NAIA stint.
IW only became a full time member of NCAA DIII in the 2018-19 season. That was their first year of postseason eligibility as an NCAA school. Zander says the transition back should be easier.
'There are always hurdles when transitioning athletic affiliations,” Zander says. 'The best thing Iowa Wesleyan can do is to be in communication with the NAIA throughout the application process. We will follow the steps outlined to us in hopes of a successful transition. If we are accepted into NAIA membership in October 2020, we will be eligible for post-season competition during the 2021-22 academic year. The most important factor for us now is identifying where or what our post-season opportunities might look like, and fully provide our coaching staff with the resources needed to to be successful.”