Mt. Pleasant, IA – October 6,  2020 – Earlier this week, the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) voted and approved the Iowa Wesleyan Tigers to make their return to NAIA,  accepting IW into membership, which will officially take place on July 1, 2021.

On June 8, Iowa Wesleyan University informed the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) of its intention to apply for membership. After evaluating a possible transition for the Tigers, it was determined that IW’s mission, academic programs, geographic location, and commitment to quality athletics aligns with the philosophy and goals within the NAIA. Since June, Iowa Wesleyan and Tiger Athletics have worked closely with the NAIA and its Membership Evaluation Team. Iowa Wesleyan staff participated in a day and a half review of their policies and procedures related to NAIA membership.

“This is an exciting time for Iowa Wesleyan University and Tiger Athletics,” said Vice President for Advancement and Athletics, Derek Zander.  “I would like to personally thank the NAIA membership team for assisting us through the application and evaluation process.  We are looking forward to our return to the NAIA, where we have so many great memories of tradition and success.  Our Tiger fans across the country should get ready for an exciting ride.”

The Iowa Wesleyan Tigers will continue to be a member of the NCAA DIII, the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC), and the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference (UMAC) through the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year. Come the 2021 academic year; the Tigers will be full-fledged NAIA members and eligible for all post-season competition.

IW was a decades-long member of the NAIA up until 2012. The Tigers had a significant tradition of success while competing in the Midwest Collegiate Conference (MCC). In 2006 and 2009, the Tiger Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams qualified for the NAIA National Basketball Tournament. The famous ‘Air Raid’ offense, which has recently come back into the spotlight in collegiate and professional football, was developed by Hal Mumme and Mike Leach at IW. With that offense, Coach Mumme led the Tigers to a 10-2 record in 1991, which is deemed one of the Tigers’ most successful periods in football history. The Tiger Baseball team was 3x National Qualifiers in 2007, 2008, and 2011. The Tiger Men’s Track & Field team found success with Floyd Turner, who became a 4x NAIA All-American and National Champion, winning the Outdoor National Title in the discus from 2004-07. Many have seen Nigel Talton, more commonly known as “The Freeze,” outrunning Braves fans as they race around the warning track at Truist Park. Talton also got his start at IW and, to this day, holds the IW record for the Men’s 100m, running an impressive 10.54 seconds.

“We look forward to continuing our focus on the development of our student-athletes within the spirit of intercollegiate athletics,” said Zander.  “The NAIA offers Iowa Wesleyan the ability to compete on a level playing field, and we look forward to creating regional rivalries that our fans, alumni, and community can support.”

The softball program also experienced success in the MCC, becoming 3x Conference Champions, 3x Tournament Champions, and National Qualifiers. While members of the MCC, the Tiger Volleyball team were 4x Conference Champions, 4x Tournament Champions, 2x Regional Tournament Champions, 5x Regional Tournament Qualifiers, and 2x National Qualifiers.

Iowa Wesleyan will host a press conference on Thursday, October 8th, at 4 pm in the Iowa Wesleyan Social Hall of the Howe Student Activity Center to formally discuss this announcement.  Limited space is available, and there will be an opportunity to attend virtually.  Contact Courtney Carl if you have questions by email at

Iowa Wesleyan has applied for conference membership and expects to receive its decision soon.