WIAC celebrates 100 years of greatness
November 11, 2011
The Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) has its 100-year anniversary coming up next year and is celebrating the nine schools in the conference.
The WIAC had all nine universities: UW-Eau Claire, UW-La Crosse, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater by 1917. Division III is the largest of the NCAA classes, according to the NCAA.
According to the UWRF website, all but UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stout were in the conference when it first began in 1913. Stout joined in 1915 and Eau Claire in 1917. Milwaukee left the conference in 1964 to join Division I. The WIAC is the ninth oldest conference in the NCAA, which consists of approximately 100 conferences at Division I, II and III levels.
“The WIAC is a great conference and no matter what sport or if the Falcons win or lose, it’s just another day in the WIAC,” said Sports Information Director Jim Thies.
“We have great students and great athletes. They could be competing high up, but they choose the WIAC. In the classroom young men and women do a great job in all areas, that’s what is so great about this league, it’s well rounded,” said Thies.
The WIAC has won more NCAA titles than any other Division III conference, according to the NCAA. UWRF has won four total national championships in men’s hockey in 1983, 1988 and 1994, and women’s outdoor track & field in 2008, according to the UWRF Athletic website. Division III has 436 active members compared to Division I’s 340, and 314 in Division II.
Athletic Director Roger Ternes said that with the way other conferences are breaking up and how schools jump to different leagues and are losing tradition, with UWRF still being part of the WIAC continues a tradition and demonstrates solidarity. “UWRF has a consistent lead on all sports. You won’t find anything like River Falls. It’s an attraction to work in one of the best leagues in the country,” said Ternes.
Thies iterated how many of the coaches at UWRF were once in the athlete’s position as athletes competing in the WIAC themselves. Then there are others like the former men’s hockey coach, George Deedley, who started coaching at UWRF and went on to coach at the University of Denver where the team won two national championships. A lot of UWRF athletes and coaches competing in the WIAC will go on and do some great things, said Thies.
Junior Isaac Milkey, who is on the swimming and diving team, said he came into college with intentions of competing in swimming; and the conference and coaches here have helped push himself to become a better athlete.
“The WIAC, being a tough conference, gives us athletes a good push in striving to be the best we can and pushing ourselves to the next level in competing against all the amazing athletes in the conference,” said Milkey.
Junior soccer player Carlin Bunting said that it is a privilege and a challenge being part of the WIAC.
“The advantage of participating in the WIAC is that anything can happen, no game is won or lost before it starts,” said Bunting. “It also gets us ready for tougher games as the season goes along and we get into playoffs and the NCAA Division III tournament.”
The WIAC has put together a two-year calendar for the years of 2012 and 2013, which are for sale in the Athletic Department. The calendar shows historical facts about the conference and most of the WIAC and NCAA championships are displayed. The calendar also recognizes current and former teams, student-athletes and coaches from each individual school.