Luther College is pleased to welcome Nebraska Wesleyan to the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference as the conference expands to nine member institutions. In a press conference Monday, July 20, IIAC officials announced that Nebraska Wesleyan University accepted an invitation to join the conference beginning the 2016-17 academic year.
The invitation was approved by Nebraska Wesleyan's Board of Governors and accepted by IIAC presidents on July 13.
"We look forward to welcoming Nebraska Wesleyan to the Iowa Conference. Our conference has a distinguished history of offering student-athletes opportunities to engage in competitive athletics during their college years. We look forward to continuing this tradition with Nebraska Wesleyan," said Luther College President Paula J. Carlson.
Renae Hartl, Luther's athletic director, said, "Nebraska Wesleyan joining the Iowa Conference is a very positive and exciting development, especially for Luther student-athletes and coaches. As charter members of the IIAC, I am sure our teams and fans will quickly embrace having a new team. Much of what makes Iowa Conference athletics great involves the rivalries that develop over the years."
Nebraska Wesleyan, the only school in the country with dual affiliation, is a member of NCAA Division III and the NAIA. Currently associated with the NAIA's Great Plains Athletic Conference, Nebraska Wesleyan will be solely affiliated with NCAA Division III effective July 1, 2016.
"Nebraska Wesleyan University is delighted to join the Iowa Conference," said NWU President Fred Ohles. "We value the academic rigor and balance that are part of the NCAA Division III philosophy and the Nebraska Wesleyan philosophy. We look forward to the opportunity of fully integrating our entire athletic program with other NCAA Division III schools."
Today's announcement marks the first addition to the Iowa Conference since Coe College and Cornell College joined in 1997 and the first change in the conference’s membership since Cornell returned to the Midwest Conference after the 2011-12 academic year. Nebraska Wesleyan will be the 20th institution to compete as a member of the 93-year old IIAC.
"I am honored to welcome Nebraska Wesleyan to our conference family," said Iowa Conference Commissioner Chuck Yrigoyen. "Our institutions are rivals in competition but united in our overall commitment to each other. We constantly strive to instill conference pride and camaraderie in every student-athlete, coach and campus community member. Yes, we eagerly anticipate the all-important conference schedule of games, but we are equally passionate about our collaborative efforts to be a premier academic and athletic experience for the young women and men we serve."