By Kevin Held
St. Louis, MO and Lebanon, IL (KSDK) -- Lindenwood and McKendree universities will soon be leaving their NAIA homes for the greener pastures of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division II level.
However, for the next two years, both the Lindenwood Lions and McKendree Bearcats will remain in the National Association Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) as part of their respective candidacy periods. Each school will then enter a "provisional" year in the NCAA, a review period in which they participate in NCAA athletics but cannot take participate in postseason competition.
If they met all NCAA regulations in that timeframe, Lindenwood and McKendree will become full members of the NCAA in 2013-2014. Division II requires a university offer at least 10 intercollegiate sports to qualify for membership.
Lindenwood will have 26 sports programs when it competes at the NCAA Div. II level. At present, 21 sports are played at Lindenwood. The university will add field hockey, women's ice hockey, men's and women's lacrosse, and men's volleyball. Women's ice hockey and men's volleyball will compete at the National Collegiate Level, which includes NCAA Div. I schools. All other sports will compete at the club level.
Lindenwood has won 10 NAIA national championships since 1998. McKendree has claimed six national championships in its 44 year NAIA affiliation, all of them in track and field.
McKendree is now looking for a new conference. The athletic department wants all of its teams to play in one conference, with the hope of correcting a problem currently plaguing the program. McKendree is a member of the American Midwest Conference for most of its intercollegiate programs, but the Bearcats football team plays in the Mid-States Football Association.
Meanwhile, Lindenwood is fast at work to find a new athletic conference. They've filed for membership with the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. That conference recently voted to explore the possibility of expanding from 12 to 16 schools. Seven Missouri schools and five Kansas schools currently make up that conference.