Cornell College, currently a member of the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC), has applied for membership into the Midwest Conference (MWC). Should they be accepted, Cornell will be a member of the conference beginning in the 2012-2013 academic year.
Cornell was a founding member of the MWC in 1921, and according to a press release issued by the school last week, has “academic links” to the ten schools currently in the MWC. Further, the school has a good number of alumni in “places where the Midwest Conference competes.”
For Cornell, the move makes sense. The school may once again be identified with the conference they helped create.
Also, as the school’s press release alluded to, Cornell’s academic profile is more in line with the sort of liberal arts schools in the MWC than those in the IIAC.
But Cornell does have ties in the IIAC. The school’s 119-year old football rivalry with Coe College–another former member of the MWC–may be difficult to maintain if Cornell changes conference affiliation.
While the move may benefit Cornell, it may signal serious changes for the Midwest Conference. At the end of last year, rumors swirled about the possible departure of Illinois College, St. Norbert College and Carroll University from the conference. Cornell’s eventual re-entry was also discussed in the spring.
If the conference decides to add Cornell and maintain an eleven-school stable, it may add to the geographical balance of the MWC. Currently, five of the schools in the MWC are in Wisconsin, four are in Illinois and only Grinnell is in Iowa.
In terms of athletic quality, Cornell is no powerhouse. This fall, the football team went 0-9. It seems doubtful Cornell’s possible entry would change the athletic landscape of the conference. Academics, however, are a different story: in Cornell the MWC would gain another well-respected, national liberal arts institution.
When pressed about the possibility by Mike Trueblood of the Galesburg Register-Mail, Knox Athletic Director Chad Eisele refused to comment on the issue, but conceded it would be on the agenda at the next meeting of MWC athletic directors.