Teams from St. Ambrose University will find themselves part of a contracted Midwest Collegiate Conference next year.
Iowa Wesleyan University in Mt. Pleasant announced last week it will apply for membership in both the NCAA's Division III and the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, starting with the 2012-13 school year.
IWU's departure could leave the MCC, currently a 10-team league, with only seven members for most sports next season.
Last spring, Ashford University in Clinton, a founding MCC member, and Waldorf College in Forest City, Iowa, were voted out of the conference, effective at the end of this year, because both are nationally owned, for-profit institutions.
Veteran SAU athletic director and men's basketball coach Ray Shovlain said MCC commissioner Rick Sanders will pursue a potential eighth league member for next season.
"That's the next question," Shovlain said when asked who that addition might be. "There's not that many choices."
With or without an additional member, Shovlain said St. Ambrose will continue its affiliation with the MCC, which it joined for men's basketball in 1990 and for all sports except football a year later.
Five MCC teams play football in the Mid-States Football Association, one of which is Wesleyan. That conference is expanding as other conferences lose programs to NCAA Division II and III.
Shovlain said St. Ambrose remains comfortable as a member of the NAIA, an organization SAU joined in 1959.
The 270 NAIA member schools in two divisions can offer athletic scholarships, while NCAA Division III schools can not, although financial aid and scholastic scholarship packages do fill the void. NCAA Division II schools do offer athletic scholarships.
"I think we are in the right spot right now," Shovlain said of both the MCC and the NAIA. "Will we research other options? We have. That has been ongoing for us. But basically we are comfortable where we are right now."
Six teams is the minimum number the MCC will need to qualify a conference champion for NAIA national tournaments. At 10, the conference also can claim an at-large berth.
The conference is in the process of adding the American Institute of Business in Des Moines to its roster. AIB fielded a volleyball team this fall and already has been an associate member in men's and women's golf and women's basketball. It will compete in the conference men's basketball race starting next month.