April 21. ILLINOIS College will add men's and women's swimming and discontinue wrestling in an effort to bring its intercollegiate athletic program into line with the rest of the Midwest Conference.
In making the announcement, IC Athletic Director Gale Vaughn said the move will balance the number of men's and women's sports at 10 apiece and eliminate a sport that is no longer sponsored by the Midwest Conference. The head wrestling coaching position, currently held by Tom Rowland, will also be eliminated.
"It has become exceptionally challenging to compete as an independent in wrestling," the IC athletic director stated. The College made inquiries into joining another conference for wrestling only, but Vaughn said the additional costs made that scenario unfeasible. As a result, the Blueboys competed in regional tournaments and as an at-large entry at qualifying events for the national tournament.
Illinois College sponsors men's competition in football, soccer, cross country, basketball, indoor track and field, baseball, golf, tennis and outdoor track and field. Sports for women include volleyball, soccer, golf, tennis, cross country, basketball, indoor track and field, softball and outdoor track and field. The addition of men's and women's swimming will increase the number of sports at Illinois College to 20.
Vaughn said there is no timetable in place for adding swimming, but he hopes to have a coach in place and intercollegiate competition under way by the 2007-2008 season. The Bruner Fitness and Recreation Center, which opened in 2003, includes a competition-sized pool.
"I have been asked about swimming since the Bruner Center first opened, and my goal is to put a program in place that will compete for the Midwest Conference title," Vaughn remarked. "It's clear that we now have one of the finest facilities in our league."
Illinois College joined the Midwest Conference in 1983. Member schools include Knox, Monmouth and Lake Forest in Illinois, Grinnell in Iowa, and Beloit, Carroll, Lawrence, Ripon and St. Norbert in Wisconsin.
Illinois College resumed its wrestling program in 1974 after a 13-year hiatus. Rowland, a Rushville native and 1969 Illinois College graduate, joined the athletic department staff in 1973 and was named wrestling coach the following year. He also was head football coach from 1998 to 2002.
"Tom Rowland is a son of Illinois College, and no account of the Blueboys' sports history for the past three decades would be complete without acknowledging the many coaching roles he played," Vaughn stated.