Whitman is a charter member of the Northwest Conference, one of the most competitive
NCAA Division III alliances in the country. The nine private colleges and
universities situated throughout Oregon and Washington are nationally competitive
in a broad spectrum of sports.
The NWC has continually reinvented itself throughout the past eight decades. Formed in 1926, the conference is
one of the oldest athletic alliances in the western United States.
Whitman is one of six charter members of the NWC. Others include the University of Puget Sound in Washington and
Linfield College, Pacific University and Willamette University in
Oregon. The College of Idaho, the sixth charter member, dropped out of the conference in 1978.
current NWC members are Pacific Lutheran University and Whitworth
University in Washington and George Fox University and Lewis
& Clark College in Oregon. Lewis & Clark joined in 1931 when it
was known as Albany College. It remained for seven years, departed, and
returned in 1949 using its present name. Pacific Lutheran was added in
1965 and Whitworth became a member in 1970. Whitworth left the NWC in 1984 but returned in 1988.
NWC, which for years sponsored athletic competition exclusively for
men’s sports, joined forces with the Women’s Conference of Independent
Colleges in 1984 to become the Northwest Conference of Independent
Colleges. The name was shortened back to Northwest Conference in 1998.
In 1998-99, all nine conference institutions shifted
national affiliation from the NAIA to the NCAA. Leaving behind years of success at the NAIA level, the conference
embraced the move as one that would foster equity, sportsmanship and genuine
concern for the student-athlete in all endeavors of competition.
Colleges and universities in NCAA Division III place the
highest priority on the overall quality of the education experience and on
the successful completion of all students' academic programs. They seek to
establish and maintain an environment in which a student-athlete's sports
activities are conducted as an integral part of his or her educational experience.
Division III institutions also seek
to establish and maintain an environment that values cultural diversity
and gender equity among their student-athletes and athletic staff.