ST. PAUL -- Following the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference's (UMAC) Council of Presidents meetings on Monday, the league invited Iowa Wesleyan College to join the conference as an associate member for the sport of football, conditional upon the institution's successful completion of the NCAA Division III exploratory year in 2012-2013 and acceptance as a provisional member of the NCAA Division III beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year. Iowa Wesleyan accepted the presidents' invitation, and will begin playing in the UMAC in 2013, assuming NCAA Division III provisional status is granted.
Iowa Wesleyan, from Mount Pleasant, Iowa, is currently a member of the NAIA's Midwest Collegiate Conference and Mid-States Football Conference. The Tigers will begin competition as a provisional member of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC), an NCAA Division III league, during the 2013-14 academic year, while joining four other SLIAC member schools -- Eureka College, Greenville College, MacMurray College and Westminster College (Mo.) -- as a UMAC associate member for football. Iowa Wesleyan announced its application for membership to the NCAA Division III in October of 2011.
"The UMAC is pleased to have Iowa Wesleyan join our league for football," said Corey Borchardt, UMAC Commissioner. He continued, "Iowa Wesleyan shares a similar mission and vision as well as exhibits values that concur with the rest of our league members. We feel the Iowa Wesleyan football program aligns well with our current football members and will be a great fit as our conference continues to develop."
Iowa Wesleyan was chartered in 1842 as the Mount Pleasant Literary Institute, became Iowa Wesleyan University in 1855 and then Iowa Wesleyan College in 1912. To this day, Iowa Wesleyan maintains a close affiliation with the United Methodist Church. The first college level degree was awarded in 1856. Among the institution's distinguished alumni are Belle Babb Mansfield (Class of 1866), the first woman admitted to the bar in the United States; James Van Allen (Class of 1935), the discoverer of the Earth's radiation belts, and Peggy Whitson (Class of 1981), the first female commander of the International Space Station and current U.S. record-holder for days in space.
Iowa Wesleyan offers more than 30 academic majors and has a full-time undergraduate enrollment of nearly 600 while boasting a 1:12 faculty-to-student ratio. Over one-third of the student body at Iowa Wesleyan competes in intercollegiate athletics.
"Iowa Wesleyan is very pleased to be approved for associate membership in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference," Iowa Wesleyan College President Dr. Jay Simmons said. "We believe that the schools in this conference are the right partners for our institution and our football program. This is an important next step in our commitment to the future of Iowa Wesleyan Tiger athletics."
Following its exploratory year with the NCAA in 2012-2013, Iowa Wesleyan must complete a four-year provisional process before becoming a full NCAA member. As a UMAC associate member during the NCAA provisional phase, the Tigers will be eligible for conference regular season competition and awards, but will not be eligible to compete in the NCAA postseason. Iowa Wesleyan will assume Presentation College's position as the 10th team on the UMAC schedule beginning in 2013.
"There is a long and proud tradition in Tiger athletics," Mike Hampton, Iowa Wesleyan College athletics director, said. "The move to NCAA Division III and the UMAC for football provides new opportunity to continue that tradition of success. We look forward to competitive opportunities for our student-athletes in this arena."
The Upper Midwest Athletic Conference is comprised of eight full and five associate members located throughout the Midwest. Originally formed in 1972 as the Twin Rivers Conference, the league was renamed in 1983. The UMAC is a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. The conference provides its member institutions the opportunity to be recognized in the areas of academic excellence and athletic competitiveness. The UMAC awards conference championships in 17 sports.