Updates from Aquinas College about COVID-19 are at aquinas.edu/coronavirus.  Updates on our academic plans are at aquinas.edu/saintstogether.

Aquinas College athletics to add men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s rugby

New programs will plan to compete during 2021-22 campaign

Published on

New programs will plan to compete during 2021-22 campaign

Aquinas College Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Athletics Nick Davidson announced today (Dec. 16) that the athletic department will be adding four new sport offerings. Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, Aquinas will offer NAIA varsity men’s and women’s swimming programs, as well as USA Rugby men’s and women’s rugby teams.

These additions mark the first new programs in the athletic department since esports in 2019 and men’s volleyball in the 2018-19 season. 

“We are excited to be adding programs that will provide opportunities for high school students in our backyard to continue to compete in the sports they are passionate about while studying their subject of choice,” Davidson said. “We expect our students to compete in the classroom and on the field or in the pool. Since 2016, we have averaged over a 3.2 GPA for the entire athletic department and we look to continue this success in the coming years.”

Aquinas will look to hire one head coach that manages both swimming teams and two head coaches to oversee the men’s and women’s rugby programs. 

“As a nationally ranked liberal arts college, Aquinas College provides many opportunities for our students to learn, develop and grow holistically in an environment that provides them with personal attention to their goals and success,” said President Kevin G. Quinn. “These experiences help our students discover and develop their unique talents so that they can go out and change the world.”

The men’s and women’s swimming teams will participate in NAIA competition, while men’s and women’s rugby will be affiliated with USA Rugby. Pending conference approval, the men’s rugby team will compete in the D1A Mid-South Conference, while the women will play in the Big 10 Conference. 

Facilities for both programs will be announced when plans have been confirmed, but it is believed that the four new teams will compete at off-campus locations in the Grand Rapids area through the College’s strong community partnerships.

“Intercollegiate athletics have a rich legacy of success at Aquinas College,” said Erin Craig, vice president for enrollment management. “By relying on our mission and core competencies, Aquinas College has a unique opportunity to extend its footprint and invest in what differentiates us in the marketplace. We are investing in what will make the greatest impact for our students and greater community. By adding rugby and swimming programs we are reiterating our commitment to having sustainable enrollment that is centered around student engagement and robust campus spirit."

Prior to this announcement, the Aquinas athletic department offered a total of 25 intercollegiate programs -- 11 men’s sports, 12 women’s teams, and two coed programs. In the most recent completed athletic year (2018-19), Aquinas finished 10th in the nation in the NAIA Learfield IMG Directors’ Cup standings, the best finish in school history.

In addition to new athletic programs, the College has established scholarship programs to provide opportunities for students of all majors who are interested in several popular academic student organizations on campus. Starting fall 2021, students of any major can earn scholarships of up to $2,000 for participation in the College’s Model United Nations, Model Arab League and music ensembles.

“The growth of our academic co-curricular offerings and athletic programs demonstrates how Aquinas College is providing new and exciting opportunities for our students,” President Quinn said. “We anticipate that this will boost participation in already popular programs on campus as well as attract new students to all the unique offerings of our outstanding institution.”