Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Athletics leaped over its final hurdle, as SIUE learned today it is now fully certified at the Division I level by the NCAA. The NCAA Executive Committee voted to approve SIUE's full certification and sent SIUE notification of its new status.
"Seeking and achieving NCAA Division I status moves SIUE closer to its vision of being recognized nationally for the quality of its programs and the development of professional and community leaders," said SIUE Director of Athletics Dr. Brad Hewitt. "Just as SIUE's high-quality academic programs are recognized at a national level, NCAA Division I status enables our student-athletes to compete at the highest level."
The process to get to this point started nearly seven years ago when SIUE Chancellor Emeritus Vaughn Vandegrift asked an Athletics Task Force to study how the department should move forward. In June 2007, SIUE submitted its intention to move to the NCAA Division I level with Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees approval. SIUE now is fully eligible for all conference postseason and NCAA postseason events with this certification.
SIUE became a member of the Ohio Valley Conference in 2008 and now is eligible for all of its championships during the 2012-13 season. The OVC has evolved into a 12-team league with the most recent addition of Belmont University.
The men's soccer program continues to compete as an associate member of the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC). Men's soccer has been the "fast track" men's program for SIUE and will be entering its third season for postseason eligibility. The SIUE wrestling program joined the Southern Conference (SoCon) last season and is now fully eligible for its postseason tournament as well as the NCAA Tournament. Softball, the fast-tracked women's program, will begin its third season of OVC and NCAA Division I in 2013.
SIUE undertook an NCAA-mandated Self-Study and has issued annual reports during the divisional transition to the NCAA for its review. Last fall, a peer review team came to campus and met with a number of University officials. That group gave a position recommendation to the Executive Committee this past spring.
"I am very proud for SIUE and the Athletics Department for reaching this historic moment. Full NCAA Division I certification supports SIUE's vision as a premier Metropolitan University," said Chancellor Julie Furst-Bowe.
SIUE has enjoyed great success since moving to the Division I level.
Hewitt said the certification process has made the SIUE Athletics department, as well as the entire University, stronger. SIUE has already begun to see the benefits of being a full member of Division I. In addition to all teams being able to compete for conference and NCAA-sponsored championships, SIUE Athletics has now also become eligible for the NCAA's revenue sharing program generated from the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament as well as other grants not afforded to provisional members.
"This has been an important journey for SIUE's Athletics department and, on behalf of the department, I thank and commend the many individuals who have given numerous hours and days to the task of making this day possible," said Hewitt. "We clearly are excited about the future of Cougar Athletics and what lies ahead for our coaches, staff, fans, friends, and especially our student-athletes."
SIUE fields 18 teams that are now eligible for postseason competition. The men's sports include baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and wrestling. The women's sports include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, and volleyball.