After becoming a coeducational college in 1969, Lindenwood's modern athletic department formed. Baseball, basketball, and soccer became the college's first three men's sports in 1970; and Lindenwood became a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). After the athletic programs became established Lindenwood's first athletic accomplishments came after more than a decade in the NAIA when the women's soccer team reached the 1986 NAIA Women's Soccer Championship. The program made 13 NAIA tournament appearances during the late 1980s through the 1990s; the run included three third place finishes and second place finishes. The 2000 National Championship saw Lindenwood lose 0-1 to Simon Fraser in fifth overtime, after 162 minutes of play in one of the longest college soccer championship matches. The university continued to expand athletics in the 1980s and by 1989 Lindenwood sponsored all 21 NAIA championship-sponsored sports.
In the 1990s the university expanded athletic programs and added and upgraded facilities. Lindenwood joined its first conference in 1993 when the university became a member of the American Midwest Conference (AMC). Three years later, Lindenwood joined the Heart of America Conference (HAAC). From 1999 to 2010 the university continued to expanded athletic offerings and added 25 new sports that grew the athletic department to over 45 varsity sports teams, making LU one of the largest athletic departments in the United States in terms of sports offered. Lindenwood University has been competing in NAIA athletics for nearly 40 years but has begun the application process for NCAA II membership. Lindenwood officially concluded its NAIA and HAAC membership at the conclusion of the 2010-11 academic year. During the university's 15 seasons a member of the HAAC the Lions set a conference record, winning 128 HAAC titles. Lindenwood averaged 8.5 conference titles a year and won at least one conference championship in sport sponsored by the conference.
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“How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)