On Aug. 9, Simpson College’s host conference, the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, announced its name would be changing to the American Rivers Conference. This marks the first time the conference has been renamed since it began nearly a century ago.
Two years ago, Nebraska Wesleyan University joined the Iowa Conference. Since then, the conference’s leaders have been discussing a potential name change.
“There’s been a conversation over the last several years about changing the name because we want to be more inclusive,” Simpson Athletic Director Bob Nutgrass said. “As we look towards the future, we want other schools to join the conference that maybe aren’t in Iowa.”
The decision was made by the conference’s President Council. The name “American Rivers” comes from the two rivers on opposite sides of the state of Iowa: the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, which make up the state’s west and east borders, respectively.
“The actual emblem with the ‘R’ on it has the stream in it. and the American Rivers Conference logo has the stream in it that depicts the two rivers on the side of the state,” Nutgrass said.
He said the name change will have a positive effect on potential new members and that the conference is looking to add new colleges and universities from neighboring states in the future.
Although the majority of the reactions around campus have been positive, some users on Twitter and former athletes in the Iowa Conference have not been so encouraging.
“Unfortunately, some people, athletes from the 1920s up until present, are probably not all happy with the change,” Nutgrass said. “It’s something moving forward that we’ve had to deal with. Hopefully as we get used to the name, it’ll be accepted by many people.”
Simpson’s head football coach, Matt Jeter, played football while at Simpson College and was a member of Simpson football’s last Iowa Conference championship team in 1997. Although he was part of the legacy of the Iowa Conference, Jeter approves of the name change and hopes others will, too.
“Playing in the Iowa Conference, there’s a lot of history,” Jeter said. “You can’t lose sight of that, but I think with the years to come and the conference looking to grow, I think it’s good timing for the conference to make a change.”
“You can’t get a school from Missouri and be the Iowa Conference, so I think it’s a good time and the right reasons to make a change,” Jeter added.
Jeter and Nutgrass think the new name could mean a fresh start for all of Simpson athletics.
“It’s important as we talk to all of the athletes in our NCAA meetings to emphasize that this is an opportunity for you to be the first champion in the American Rivers Conference,” Nutgrass said. “I think it’s a good turning point for us, and I think it’s something that our coaching staff and our athletes will hopefully look forward to being new conference champions this year and in the future.”