Wartburg College is expanding its athletic program to 22 varsity sports -- 11 each for men and women.

The NCAA Division III school in Waverly is adding men's and women's bowling starting with the 2018-19 academic year, athletic director Rick Willis announced on Thursday (May 25, 2017).

"Bowling is a very popular sport within our state and region at the high school level," Willis said in a press release posted on Wartburg's athletic website. "The number of college teams has been growing in recent years. We are excited to offer this opportunity for prospective students."

Because bowling is not a sponsored sport in the Iowa Conference, each program will compete as an independent. Several other schools in the Central region have women's bowling programs, including the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Augustana College (Ill.) will begin its program in the upcoming academic year, 2017-18.

Bowling is the first new men's athletic program at Wartburg since soccer was added in 1989 and the newest women's program since lacrosse was established in 2013.

Willis said the school plans to begin the search for a bowling coach this summer.