McKendree Approved for Membership in NCAA Division II
(LEBANON, Ill., July 12) — McKendree University has been accepted into the membership of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division II level, school officials announced on Monday.
Dr. Todd Reynolds, director of athletics at McKendree, received a phone call from the NCAA Division II Membership Committee on Monday confirming the news. With its successful application, McKendree will now enter a two-year candidacy period and must complete at least one provisional year before entering active membership status in NCAA Division II. McKendree was chosen from a pool of 12 applicants for NCAA Division II membership this year.
“This is certainly an important day in the history of McKendree athletics and for our University as a whole,” said McKendree President Dr. James Dennis. “Our acceptance into NCAA Division II membership culminates a long and meticulous process of evaluating our athletic programs and determining what would be most beneficial to the long-term success of those programs. We are delighted that the NCAA Division II Membership Committee feels that McKendree University fits its profile for membership and we look forward to beginning this new chapter in the life of Bearcat athletics.”
Since 1966, McKendree’s national affiliation has come through the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). Over its four-plus decades as a member of the NAIA, McKendree has claimed six NAIA national championships, all of which have come in the sport of track and field. The women’s indoor track and field program established an NAIA record by winning four consecutive national titles from 1999 through 2002.
“McKendree has always had a special place in its heart for the NAIA,” said Dr. Dennis. “Many of the greatest moments in Bearcat athletics history have come as a member of the organization. We will always be grateful to the leadership of the NAIA for its role as a leader in small-college intercollegiate athletics.”
NCAA Division II requirements state that an institution must offer at least 10 intercollegiate sports to qualify for membership. McKendree has expanded its athletic offerings from six teams in 1993 to its current number of 20. In 2009-10, there were 10 Bearcat teams that qualified for national tournament competition.
“McKendree is pleased to have been accepted for membership in NCAA Division II,” said Reynolds. “We look forward to the opportunities that this realignment can provide and are fully aware of the challenges it represents. While the University has enjoyed a long and very satisfactory relationship with the NAIA, it was determined that our future interests could best be served through this change in national affiliations. We believe as a result of this change McKendree University in general, and our student-athletes in particular, will benefit athletically and non-athletically.”
Reynolds noted that McKendree is in the process of searching for a new conference home in NCAA Division II. He also said that the Bearcat athletic program would prefer a home where all of its athletic programs can compete in one conference. Currently, McKendree is a member of the American Midwest Conference for most of its intercollegiate programs. The Bearcats compete in the Mid-States Football Association for football.