By Gary Brown and Michelle Brutlag Hosick
The Division III Management Council at its meeting on Monday approved reclassification requests from Centenary College (Louisiana) and the University of New Orleans, though New Orleans will have to satisfy a conditional year before continuing in the reclassification process.
Both Centenary and New Orleans are seeking to reclassify from Division I. Centenary’s four-year membership process for Division III begins September 1.
New Orleans also begins its process September 1 but must complete a conditional year in 2010-11 before continuing the final years of the reclassification process. Conditions include an increase in sports sponsorship by 2011-12 to meet current Division III requirements.
New Orleans currently sponsors four women’s sports and five men’s sports under a waiver of Division I membership requirements through the 2011-12 academic year. That waiver was granted based on the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the subsequent economic recession.
While the Management Council and the Membership Committee understand the economic challenges facing the university (especially with the recent oil spill in the Gulf compounding those challenges), members believe the institution should comply with the division’s sports-sponsorship requirements before continuing in the reclassification process. The Management Council noted that New Orleans has already indicated a plan for meeting the Division III standards.
The Division I Leadership Council elected Central Arkansas and Cal State Bakersfield to Division I membership for the 2010-11 academic year. Both institutions reclassified from Division II through the traditional five-year transition process.
In 2007, the Division I Board of Directors placed a moratorium on new Division I members, but that decision did not affect schools already in the reclassification process.
Central Arkansas joined the Southland Conference, the league in which most of the Bears’ sports competed recently. In fact, Central Arkansas’ football team won the league last year but was ineligible for postseason play.
Cal State Bakersfield is interested in joining the Big West Conference. The Roadrunners recently reinstated several sports after budget cuts forced the elimination of men’s and women’s golf, women’s tennis, and wrestling. A fundraising drive raised enough money to save the endangered teams.
Regis College (Massachusetts) on Monday accepted an invitation to become the 10th member of the New England Collegiate Conference at the close of the 2010-11 academic year.
Regis will be the first full-time member the NECC has added since the league’s inception in 2008. Current members are Bay Path College, Becker College, Daniel Webster College, Elms College, Lesley University, Mitchell College, Newbury College, Southern Vermont College and Wheelock College.
Regis, presently a member of the Commonwealth Coast Conference, sponsors seven men’s sports and 10 for women. The Pride will compete in all NECC sports except baseball.