Staying Put

November 2, 2018

After a six-month internal study conducted and led by the Aquinas athletic department on whether to investigate a potential move to join NCAA Division III, Aquinas College has officially decided to remain with its current affiliation in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC). 

"As part of the NAIA, Aquinas College is once again committing to the development of a whole student, in and out of the classroom. Our membership ensures that our students will continue to be able to fulfill both a high level of academic performance and athletic performance in a competitive field," said Aquinas College President Dr. Kevin Quinn. "As we move onward and upward from this decision, I am excited to see Aquinas College become the best NAIA institution in the country."

In mid-April, the athletic department was tasked with a charge to study the potential effects of possibly making a move to NCAA Division III and join the nearby Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA). The study was an internal evaluation of athletic department and campus policies and procedures and what such a move would mean for the college, in general. Pros and cons of both the NAIA and NCAA were thoroughly studied and discussed throughout the six-month period.

The decision came down to two choices within the last week: continue to further study the possible transition to NCAA Division III by hiring a consultant to assist in the process or end the study and remain in the NAIA. The Aquinas College Board of Trustees chose the latter option, signifying that Aquinas would remain in the NAIA and as a member of the WHAC.

"We have gone through an inclusive self-study and process to really evaluate who we are and where we belong as an institution," explained Nick Davidson, AQ Director of Athletics. "Our campus looked at NCAA Division III from a financial standpoint, as well as the student experience, admissions processes, and many other areas. At the conclusion of the study, we determined that we belong in the NAIA. We will challenge ourselves to be the best NAIA institution that we can be and to be very competitive in the WHAC and on a national level. We look forward to continuing to build a great NAIA institution."

Aquinas is one of six charter members of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference, helping to form the league in 1992. Four of those six members (AQ, Concordia, Cornerstone, Siena Heights) are still full-time WHAC institutions. Aquinas won its first WHAC All-Sports Trophy in 1997-98, which started a streak of seven consecutive titles, eight in nine years, and 11 championships in a 13-year span.

"I applaud Aquinas College for conducting a thorough analysis related to athletic association and conference," stated Jim Carr, President & CEO of the NAIA. "We are pleased that the committee concluded that the NAIA and the WHAC place Aquinas athletics in the best position to be successful and positively impact the mission of the institution. We look forward to working with the leaders of the college for many years to come."

What others are saying:

Mike Wojciakowski, Aquinas head men's and women's cross country and track & field coach and male head coach representative on the NAIA/NCAA committee:

"This process has allowed Aquinas College to not only rediscover who we are, but it also gives us the rationale of why. I appreciate Nick Davidson's leadership and Dr. Quinn's support of our decision to stay affiliated with the NAIA. I am forever grateful to have been involved with this study and I am thankful for all the staff, faculty, students, and alumni who kept the best interest of Aquinas College in mind. We belong to a great institution that is a part of a fantastic national governing body. We have so many great things happening within our department and across campus. I am inspired by the direction of Aquinas College."

Lauren Grogan, Aquinas head men's and women's golf coach and female head coach representative on the NAIA/NCAA committee:

"Moving forward, I believe the decision to stay within the WHAC and the NAIA was in the best interest of not only the athletic department, but for the college as well. I have worked at Aquinas for a little over a year and can tell we are a part of something special. President Quinn and Nick Davidson are helping us set the stage to compete in everything we do while also providing the best student-athlete experience. The NAIA proves to be a great fit not only for our athletes, but also aligning with our vision of growing students as people and preparing them for life after school."

Rob Miller, WHAC Commissioner:

"We are excited that Aquinas has done the self-evaluation of its athletic program and realized the NAIA and the WHAC is where they belong. For over 30 years, I have been associated with Aquinas competing against them as a player and coach or working with them through national and conference affiliation; it has always been clear to me they do it the right way and set a standard for others to follow. We are pleased that standard remains with the NAIA."

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