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Wisconsin Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WWIAC)
In 1958, the Wisconsin Athletic and Recreation Federation of College Women (WARFCW) was formed for the purpose of coordinating athletic activity among Wisconsin institutions of higher education. This organization followed the national model (ARFCW) in which governance was primarily the responsibility of student leaders. The WARFCW included representatives from: Eau Claire State College, La Crosse State College, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Oshkosh State College, Platteville State College, Ripon College, River Falls State College and University of Wisconsin-Madison. The WARFCW held sports days in archery, badminton, basketball, golf, gymnastics, tennis and volleyball.
In 1966, a motion to form a women’s athletic conference was presented, but defeated. Then, in 1969 at the annual convention held at Carthage College (Kenosha), a motion to limit the number of sports days per sport to one was passed. This constituted a state meet in each particular sport. Member institutions were allowed to travel to other member schools for dual meets.
In the winter of the 1969-70 academic year, a number of schools, which are currently members of the Wisconsin Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WWIAC), participated in a unique state basketball tournament at the then Wisconsin State University at Stevens Point. As a result of playing a partial round robin, three state champions were recognized. The triumvirate championship of basketball, with its sportsday hues, was questioned later in the spring of 1970 at the state track meet involving essentially the same schools. At that meet, Martha van Steenderen (UW-Whitewater), Chair of the Wisconsin State Division for Girls’ and Women’s Sports (DGWS), appointed Dr. Judy Wilson of River Falls and Dr. Mary Jo Mullen of Stevens Point to investigate Minnesota’s intercollegiate athletic organization for women and report back to the Wisconsin Athletic and Recreation Federation for College Women (WARFCW) schools.
Dr. Wilson and Dr. Mullen began their work, with Dr. Wilson contacting the Minnesota contingent and Dr. Mullen organizing the fall 1970 meeting for the presentation of their report. Marty Beck of Bemidji, Sue Day and Joyce Locks of Winona State served as resource people. Dr. Mullen chaired the fall 1970 meeting at Stevens Point to which eleven universities sent representatives.
At that time, an agreement was reached that the development of a conference was needed. Dr. Mullen took the draft of the Constitution of the newly formed WWIAC and presented it for final approval at a meeting held at UW-Eau Claire on January 29-30, 1971. After two days of deliberations, the WWIAC became a reality. In the spring of 1971, the first “Governing Board” meeting was held.
The original membership consisted of twelve schools (the nine current members plus Carthage College, UW-Madison and UW-Parkside) and grew to its maximum of 16 by 1975 with the addition of UW-Milwaukee, Carroll College, UW-Green Bay and Marquette University.
All members were at one time affiliated with the Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW), and the Midwest Association of Athletics for Women (MAIAW). Initially, the AIAW conducted regional and national championships with a large school/small school format. This initial format was later changed to a three division format determined by percentages of financial assistance based on athletic ability.
In 1982, the AIAW dissolved and members affiliated with the NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) and/or the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association), Division III. Marquette departed the WWIAC after the 1982 season.
In 1975, the University of Wisconsin System allocated a part-time position for coordination of the WWIAC. Gail Grimm was appointed Executive Secretary, and was succeeded in 1977 by Dr. Emogene Nelson (UW-River Falls). It was through Dr. Nelson’s efforts that a commissioner’s position became a reality. In August 1979, Dr. Janice Stocker became the first WWIAC Commissioner, resigning in August 1984. Judy Kruckman (UW-Eau Claire) served as acting Commissioner until her appointment in June 1985.
In 1984-85, the Conference functioned for the first time as a non-scholarship (no financial assistance allowed based on athletic ability) organization, and Faculty Athletics Representatives acted upon recommendations made by the Athletics Directors.
As of the 1993-94 academic year, all WWIAC institutions had only NCAA Division III affiliation.
Judy Kruckman served as commissioner until 1996, at which time Dr. Gary Karner was chosen to oversee both the WWIAC and WSUC.