The Northwest Conference is building a reputation as 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 75 years. Formed in 1926, the conference is one of the oldest athletic alliances in the western United States. The NWC's current Oregon-based membership includes Linfield, Lewis and Clark, Willamette, Pacific and George Fox. The members from the state of Washington are Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran, Whitman and Whitworth.
Charter members included Willamette, Pacific, Whitman, the College of Puget Sound (UPS), Linfield and the College of Idaho. 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. PLU was added in 1965 and Whitworth became a member in 1970. The College of Idaho (now known as Albertson College of Idaho) dropped out in 1978. Whitworth left the NWC in 1984 but returned in 1988.
The Northwest Conference, which for years sponsored athletic competition exclusively for men’s sports, and the Women’s Conference of Independent Colleges joined forces in 1984 to become the Northwest Conference of Independent Colleges. The name was shortened back to Northwest Conference in 1998.
Four years ago, 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.