Syndication: The Des Moines Register

Iowa Wesleyan University, the birthplace of the Air Raid revolution in college football, is closing its doors after 181 years due to ongoing financial issues. The school held its final commencement on May 6

In 1989, Iowa Wesleyan hired little-known Texas high school coach Hal Mumme to lead its NAIA football program. Mumme teamed up with offensive line coach Mike Leach, wide receiver Dana Holgorsen and quarterback Dustin Dewald to create the Air Raid system at the collegiate level. (Additionally, Oklahoma offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh played at Iowa Wesleyan under Mumme for one year.) The Tigers finished top-two nationally in passing offense all three years under Mumme, who posted a 25-10 record at a previously moribund program. 

After his successful run at Iowa Wesleyan, Mumme moved up to Division II at Valdosta State and later brought his offense to the SEC at Kentucky. He finished his college coaching career with a 142-152-1 record overall. Mumme's Air Raid coaching tree continues to grow, extending his impact -- and Iowa Wesleyan's -- on the sport. Holgorsen and Leach each became successful FBS head coaches. Leach's coaching tree includes Lincoln Riley, Kliff Kingsbury, Josh Heupel and many others. 

Though the program holds a significant place in college football history, Iowa Wesleyan faced major budget shortfalls starting in 2018. The school received a $26 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture, using the school's campus as collateral. The university asked Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds for an additional $12 million loan in 2023, but ultimately voted to close after its request was denied. The USDA will take control of the campus. 

Iowa Wesleyan is just the latest college to close in recent years. More than 90 colleges nationally have either closed or announced plans to merge with other institutions since 2016. The Midwest has been hit especially hard by closures, with 17 in Iowa and its six border states. 

In addition to its proud football history, Iowa Wesleyan represented one of the first universities in the nation to serve women. Alumna Arabella Babb became the first female lawyer in the United States in 1869. Peggy Whitson, the first female commander of the International Space Station, also attended Iowa Wesleyan.