The Woodward News

Sports

July 19, 2012

NWOSU’s NCAA Division II application accepted

Woodward, Okla. — Hailing it as a “groundbreaking” day, Northwestern Oklahoma State University announced Wednesday it’s application for National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II membership has been accepted and the Alva-based unversity will now begin the candidacy process of  transitioning from NAIA. Membership in NCAA Division II also will mean NWOSU will become a member of the Great American Conference.

“Today is a historic and groundbreaking day for Northwestern as we begin our relationship with the NCAA and the Great American Conference,” said Dr. Janet Cunningham, president of the university.

“The move to the NCAA and the GAC will provide the best possible experience for our student-athletes, secure the long-term future of intercollegiate athletics at Northwestern, and align the University with the most recognized brand in college sports.”

Northwestern’s application for NCAA Division II membership was rejected last year, forcing the university to resubmit its application.

A multi-year process will ensue for NWOSU to become an active member of Division II beginning on Sept. 1 when the school will commence the first year of the candidacy period.

During that period, the school will begin to familiarize itself with the structure, philosophy, function and expectations of Division II. If successful, the NCAA will move the school to year two of the candidacy period.

Following two years of successful candidacy, NWOSU will be become a provisional member of Division II, the final step before full active membership.

“We have completed the first step, an important step, in the membership process,” Cunningham said. “As an institution, we now move forward with a sense of excitement as we work to become an active member of the NCAA and Division II.”

Previously a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, the Sooner Athletic Conference and the Central State Football League, the school ended those affiliations effective June 30. Until becoming an active member, NWOSU will not be eligible for national postseason play.

While participating in the Central States Football League, NWOSU won eight league championships since 2000 and played in the NAIA national football playoffs 12 times since 1987.

 The Rangers’ football team won the national championship in 1999, was national runner up in 2000 and 2003, advanced to the semifinals in 1996 and quartferfinals in 2002.

Wednesday’s announcement also means NWOSU begins the process of securing active membership in the Great American Conference which offered provisional membership to  NWOSU in the spring of 2011.

With its acceptance, Northwestern joins Southern Nazarene as provisional members in a conference that includes fellow Oklahoma schools Southwestern Oklahoma State,  Southeastern Oklahoma State and East Central University. In addition to the five Oklahoma schools, the conference includes six Arkansas-based schools: Arkansas-Montibello, Arkansas Tech, Harding, Henderson State, Quachita Baptist and Southern Arkansas University.

“This is an exciting announcement for the Great American Conference,” said Will Prewitt, conference commissioner. “Our leadership has felt that Northwestern will be a good member of the NCAA Division II and we’re gratified that the Membership Committee has arrived at the same conclusion.

“We look forward to seeing the Rangers on conference schedules this fall and to work with the administration of Northwestern through the provisional process. We congratulate President Cunningham and the entire Northwestern community on this wonderful news.”

The GAC will begin to incorporate NWOSU into its conference schedules this fall as a provisional member along with SNU.

Provisional member games count in the GAC standings, but schools will not be eligible for league titles, and football games against NWOSU and Southern Nazarene will not count since the schools are not yet playing full league schedules.

“We are anxious to begin renewing some long-time rivalries and establishing some new ones as we begin competing against GAC schools,” said Andy Carter, NWOSU’s director of athletics. “Our coaches and student athletes are excited about the opportunities and are anxious to prove they are up to the challenge of competing successfully in the conference.

“As a department, we are fortunate that we have spent the last year transitioning to a NCAA operation. This places us far ahead as we move through the membership process.”

Cunningham said there is a sense of relief NWOSU has been accepted but said there is a lot of work yet to be done.

“Andy Carter, and our previous athletic director Bob Batisti, devoted many hours in positioning our athletic programs to be successful in this endeavor,” she said. “I have confidence in our athletic leadership, our coaches and our student athletes that they will blaze a successful trail into the NCAA and the GAC.”

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