More than 3,500 student-athletes on 200 college and university intercollegiate bowling teams compete in more than 80 certified tournaments each year. Collegiate bowling has grown in popularity and prestige under College Bowling USA and more recently with the formation of the USBC Collegiate program, bowling's national intercollegiate governing body.
Those programs include men's and women's teams at the club, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) levels and women's varsity teams with the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA).
The country's top 80 men's and top 64 women's collegiate teams compete in regional events for the right to advance to the annual ITC, a nationally-televised tournament. USBC Collegiate oversees and conducts the Intercollegiate Team and Singles Championships. Individual championships are crowned at the annual ISC.
United States Bowling Congress Collegiate also works with the National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association to determine All-Americans and Academic Recognition, Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player honors.
According to an article in the 1947 issue of Bowling by Paul Gould, the first collegiate bowling competition was held April 8, 1916. Gould's article was generated by a letter he received from Cornell University's Victor Klee, which stated that bowling was recognized as an intercollegiate sport at Yale as far back as 1916. Bill Wyer of Yale organized the first collegiate bowling tournament held in New Haven, Conn., on April 8, 1916.
Besides varsity teams from Yale and Lehigh, teams from the Cornell University Interfraternity league, Syracuse University, Stevens Institute Bowling Associations and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute competed. These colleges became the first charter members of the Intercollegiate Bowling Association, and immediately began planning the second event for 1917 in which competition would expand by at least 11 teams.
Apparently World War I undermined that first attempt at organized collegiate bowling, as no mention of college bowling appears in any national bowling publications until the early 1940s, when several collegiate tournaments were conducted in the East and Midwest.
By the the 1966-67 season, the American Bowling Congress and Women's International Bowling Congress had their own college bowling programs. ABC and WIBC soon merged their growing programs to form the ABC and WIBC Collegiate Division during the 1977-78 season.
With the formation of the United States Bowling Congress on Jan. 1, 2005, College Bowling USA became the USBC Collegiate program. USBC Collegiate maintains the eligibility and integrity of intercollegiate bowling while providing certification and regulation of varsity bowling at the collegiate level. USBC Collegiate also provides assistance and leadership in implementing bowling programs, securing the opportunity for student-athletes to compete in the sport and achieve athletic and academic excellence.
For the first time since 1978, member schools of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) will compete in a dedicated national tournament when the NAIA Invitational takes place in 2011.
NAIA schools competed against each other from 1962-1978, crowning championships annually in team, singles and doubles competition. St. Vincent's won the last team title in 1978.
NAIA elevated bowling to emerging sport status last summer. The move by one of the nation's governing bodies for collegiate athletics puts bowling on the path to becoming a championship sport for dozens of additional colleges and universities across the country.
In the 2010-11 season, teams from 28 schools fielded bowling teams. If 50 or more NAIA member institutions designate bowling as a varsity sport, then bowling will be eligible for championship sport status and an NAIA national championship.
The NAIA has 50,000 student-athletes participating at nearly 300 member colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada. Divided into 25 conferences and the Association of Independent Institutions, the NAIA offers 23 championships in 13 sports. All NAIA bowling programs are members of USBC Collegiate.
College bowling is unlike any other college sport. While other schools may treat bowling as a hobby or a game that you used to play at birthday parties, plenty of small schools across the US treat it as a major competitive sport. Be warned: The competition is fierce. It's interesting to note that the NCAA doesn't recognize men's bowling as a sport. Only women's bowling is NCAA sanctioned, and 43 schools participate in Divisions I and II. Bowlers of both genders never fear: Plenty of colleges offer bowling competition for both genders that aren't part of the NCAA. Schools such as these offer bowling as an intercollegiate sport or club.
Any student can participate in college bowling, but competition is just as intense as in other college sports. There are people who have been playing their whole lives, scouts who watch high school students, and college tryouts with sometimes 100 people attempting to land a slot on an eight-person team. Ursuline College in Ohio added bowling to its list of sports in 2009. Since then the program has been recruiting players like any other sports program. They even announce when they've signed particularly skilled bowlers.
Millions of dollars in scholarships are offered to bowlers every year. Collegiate bowling scholarships are offered at dozens of schools including the University of Florida, the University of Kansas and Lindenwood University, which was ranked fifth in the nation for men's bowling and third for women's. Scholarships are offered for high school students entering college and returning college students as well.
Last season the top three men's bowling programs were Webber International University, Robert Morris University in Illinois and Wichita State University. For women, Wichita State was ranked No. 1, followed by McKendree University and Lindenwood University. All these schools are consistent powerhouses: Wichita State has been ranked in the top three for both men and women since 2002.
The bowling alley at Harding was next to the Dog 'n' Suds out on (city route 67) Race Street. We took care of the cash register, there was room for a fooseball table, and you could smoke. It was perfect.
The Bison bowlers captured their fifth straight Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference championship by defeating eight AIC teams. The most crucial of these was State College of Arkansas. This victory paved the way for the bowlers to the national tournament and a chance at a first after last year's second place finish. Their efforts were unsuccessful in winning the NAIA tourney, although they did gain the fourth spot.
Doubles team, Charles Burt and Charles Webb, paced the Harding keglers by taking second in the Kansas City competition. Leading the team in total pins for the year and winning the AIC singles crown was Roy Smalling of Corpus Christi, Texas. Coach Ed Burt began his 1970 season with four returning lettermen. With the aid of five new men his team shoots for its sixth straight league title.
With senior Charles Burt winning the singles title to lead the way, the 1970 Bison bowling team attained first in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics bowling championship in Kansas City, Missouri. After a fourth place finish in 1969 and a second the year before.
Harding's victory was the first national championship ever won by a member of the AIC and NAIA District 17. The team earned its way to the tournament finals with its sixth straight AIC victory and wins in two regional tournaments.
Four of the five experienced team members finished in the top ten individual pinfall for the meet. Charles Burt's singles victory, his second national title, was paced by an average of 202 pins per game and a high score of 227 in the final match.
The bowling team excelled impressively during the season with improving scores. The members did well in other bowling tournaments throughout the area.
They later closed the bowling alley and on the strength of our national championships, opened bowling lanes at the Heritage Center on campus. It ruined everything.
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