May 19, 2011

Cornell to return to Midwest Conference

In football, Cornell has won one Iowa Conference game in the past five seasons.
Cornell athletics photo

Midwest Conference Presidents’ Council chair Thomas Kunkel has announced that charter member Cornell will return to the storied league in the 2012-13 academic year. The Rams have been participating in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference for the past 14 years.

“We are excited to celebrate the tradition and history that returns with Cornell’s acceptance as a member of the Midwest Conference,” commissioner Chris Graham said. “Cornell’s contributions to the league’s philosophy and administration played a prominent role in leading us to where we are today. We look forward to working with its fine staff once again.”

They will join 10 other private liberal arts schools in Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin: Beloit, Carroll, Grinnell, Illinois College, Knox, Lake Forest, Lawrence, Monmouth, Ripon and St. Norbert.

As a founding member of the MWC in 1921, Cornell had been a cornerstone of the 90-year old association before joining the IIAC with Coe following the 1996-97 academic year. Prior to its departure, the school played a prominent role in the history and development of one of the top academic conferences in NCAA Division III.

“The Cornell athletics program is excited to have the opportunity to rejoin the Midwest Conference; a group of institutions with whom the College has long-standing relationships, both academically and athletically,” Cornell athletic director John Cochrane, the former commissioner of the Iowa Conference, said. “We are grateful to the presidents, faculty members, and athletic administrators in the Midwest Conference for embracing our request for membership; we are committed to working with our colleagues in furthering the mission of the conference and continuing to provide an intercollegiate athletic experience that fosters academic and athletic excellence.”

Aligned with members of the MWC as a highly ranked and nationally recognized liberal arts institution, Cornell also has a prominent athletic footprint in the annals of league record books. The Rams claimed the first-ever league championship at a track meet on May 13, 1921, and proceeded to collect 66 more titles up to the spring of 1997.

"The Midwest Conference presidents are tremendously enthusiastic about having Cornell back in the conference," Kunkel said. "We greatly value and respect Cornell, not only for its outstanding academic record but because of our deep shared history."

Cornell College, a private four-year liberal arts college, was founded in 1853 and offers varsity programs in 19 sports (10 men, nine women). Previously the Rams collected 67 MWC championships and were a two-time winner of the Ralph Shively Women’s All-Sports Championship Trophy which is awarded to the school based on their standing in each of the MWC’s 20 sports.

Cornell claimed 12 MWC titles in both men’s basketball and football while men’s cross country won nine championships. The Rams had 11 other programs win MWC titles.

“We’re extremely pleased to hear that the Midwest Conference has accepted our petition to return to the conference we helped found and in which we’ll again be competing with the advent of the 2012-13 academic year,” Cornell interim president Jim Brown said. “We look forward to participating in many of the places where Cornell has very active alumni bases and strong student representation. We think this change will be of great value to the experience of our student athletes.”

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