July 13, 2012

Rogers State Accepted Into NCAA Division II Membership Process

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced that Rogers State University has been approved for the Division II membership process. The association notified Ryan Bradley, RSU Director of Athletics, on Friday morning.

RSU President Dr. Larry Rice called the announcement a major milestone in the university's recent renaissance.

"After extended conversations with students, faculty and community members, it became clear that RSU would be better served by changing its athletic affiliations to the NCAA Division II level," Dr. Rice said. "The move allows RSU to better serve both our student-athletes and the university, while also increasing the national exposure for both the university and the communities we serve."

With its successful application for Division II Membership, RSU will now enter into a three-year transition period before earning full NCAA membership status. The Hillcats will continue as an active member of the Sooner Athletic Conference within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for the 2012-13 school year while serving Candidacy Year One with the NCAA.

RSU has also been approved for membership in the NCAA's Heartland Conference. The Heartland is comprised of schools located in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas. Starting in the fall of 2013, RSU will play a Heartland Conference schedule in all sports as it completes Second Year Candidacy. Upon completion of Year Three of the membership process, which is the provisional year, the Hillcats will gain full NCAA membership and become eligible to compete for NCAA Division II Championships beginning as early as 2015-16. The Division II Membership Committee annually determines if an institution should move forward into the next candidacy year, and it can require an institution to repeat a year if progress is not sufficient.

"We are thrilled with the committee's decision and anxious to begin the NCAA membership process," said Ryan Bradley, RSU Director of Athletics. "We believe RSU is a great fit for NCAA Division II and we look forward to establishing new rivalries and traditions with many of our peer institutions in the region."

A task-force comprised of campus and community representatives was commissioned to study the benefits of NAIA and NCAA membership and unanimously recommended that RSU seek NCAA membership on in spring 2010. University leaders have spent the past 24 months drafting and implementing new policies and procedures that align with the NCAA model while also vigorously preparing to submit an application for membership.

The university submitted its application for membership on June 1 which included financial studies, a strategic plan for athletics, details of compliance initiatives, staffing and sports sponsorship, academic and athletic achievement, information on facilities and university involvement in the local community.

The NCAA is the most recognized brand in college sports, administering 88 championships in 23 sports for its member institutions. More than 40,600 men and women student-athletes annually compete in these championship events for national titles. Division II is home to 302 of the association's 1,079 members. Fifty-two percent of Division II members are public institutions. The division serves more than 93,700 student-athletes and host 25 national championship events each year.

RSU has enjoyed rapid growth in sports sponsorship since the launch of athletics in 2005. The Hillcats joined the NAIA in 2005 when baseball and softball were implemented. RSU was accepted as a member of the Sooner Athletic Conference in 2006 and added men's and women's soccer and men's and women's basketball in 2007. Men's and women's golf was added in 2009 and cross country was implemented in 2010. Over the last seven years the Hillcats have won 67-percent of their athletic competitions, claimed four conference championships, produced 11 NAIA All-Americans, and made nine national tournament appearances.

"We are grateful to the NAIA and the Sooner Athletic Conference for the opportunities they've provided for our student-athletes overs the past seven years," Bradley said. "We are extremely proud of what our programs have accomplished during the early years of development and look forward to the new challenges the NCAA will provide for Hillcat Athletics."

RSU boast an enrollment of 4,632 students and has proudly carried the title of Oklahoma's fastest growing university for the past decade. RSU was founded as an academic institution of higher learning more than 100 years ago and has stayed true to its commitment of academic excellence through several transition periods. In its 12 years as an accredited baccalaureate institution, RSU has placed a high priority on developing strong academic programs as well as meaningful extracurricular opportunities for its students.

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