McKendree University will become associate members of the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) to compete in the sport of women’s bowling.
The MIAA took action to sponsor women’s bowling as an NCAA championship sport, beginning in the 2016-17 academic year. The league’s first bowling champion will be crowned at its inaugural conference tournament to be held March 26-27, 2017 at the KC Bowl in Kansas City, Kan.
“The MIAA is excited to sponsor this opportunity for women’s collegiate student-athletes that have a passion for bowling,” said Bob Boerigter, commissioner of the MIAA. “Our members and associate members who provide this sport are committed to both student academic success and they also seek to provide a quality competitive athletics experience for their student-athletes. All believe the MIAA bowling championship will provide that opportunity.”
McKendree is one of five institutions accepted into the MIAA as associate members for the coming year, along with current Great Lakes Valley Conference partners Drury University and Maryville University along with Elmhurst College and Nebraska Wesleyan University. The five schools to partner with existing MIAA members Lincoln University and the University of Central Missouri to form the league’s bowling conference.
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“McKendree University looks forward to its conference affiliation with the MIAA in women’s bowling,” said Chuck Brueggemann, director of athletics at McKendree. “This will provide our student-athletes an opportunity to compete regularly against some of the top programs throughout the Midwest. It also opens another post-season avenue for the members of our bowling program. We look forward to this partnership with the MIAA for many years to come.”
In 2015-16, McKendree enjoyed its most successful season on the lanes since becoming and NCAA-sponsored sport. The Bearcats competed in eight tournaments against NCAA competition, winning four while posting a runner-up finish in another. McKendree earned its first-ever bid to the NCAA Women’s Bowling Championship, which was held in April in North Brunswick, N.J. The Bearcats fared well in the eight-team field, rolling to a Final Four finish to bring home NCAA team hardware for the first time in school history.
In addition to the conference tournament, the schools in the new MIAA women’s bowling league have agreed to a schedule of regular-season common events that will provide the framework to seed the conference championship. Student-athletes on each team will be eligible for weekly Player of the Week honors as well as post-season All-Conference athletic and academic awards.