The Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) is making history by adding bowling and lacrosse for both men and women as conference sports effective the fall of 2012.
The WHAC is the first conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to offer the sports as a conference championship sport. The conference, which expands to 12 schools in the fall, now offers 22 conference sports for its members in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.
Although the NAIA does not offer a national championship in either sport, the WHAC will benefit from the inclusion of the sports. "It's a great opportunity to provide athletic competition to a larger group of student-athletes," said WHAC commissioner Rob Miller. "Athletic competition provides a unique college experience from which student-athletes learn dedication and leadership."
Seven schools currently offer men's and women's bowling as a varsity sport: Aquinas College, Concordia University, Davenport University, Indiana Tech, Lawrence Tech, University of Northwestern Ohio, and Siena Heights University. The WHAC seasons will start in October and culminate with conference championships in the spring. The last time the NAIA held a national championship in bowling was 1978. Currently, 36 NAIA schools sponsor men's bowling at the varsity level and 35 sponsor a women's team.
Lacrosse is a new sport to the conference and national organization and a handful of NAIA members offer the sport. The NAIA does not yet conduct national championships for the sport as only 27 schools have a men's team and 20 field a women's team. In the WHAC, four schools sponsor varsity teams for women's lacrosse: Aquinas, Davenport, Indiana Tech, and Siena Heights. Lawrence Tech, Marygrove University, and University of Michigan-Dearborn join those four in sponsoring a men's team. The lacrosse season will play a fall schedule with the conference championship in the spring.
"The sport expansion allows more student-athletes to consider our schools and the NAIA," Miller said. "We hope the fact that the WHAC will offer conference championships in bowling and lacrosse inspires other conferences to add the sports."