AUM receives approval to join NCAA Division II
INDIANAPOLIS - The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has announced that Auburn University at Montgomery has been approved to begin the three-year Division II membership process.
AUM Chancellor Dr. John G. Veres III and Athletic Director Steve Crotz were notified of the Division II membership committee’s decision via email Friday afternoon. The Division II Management Council will review all membership decisions at its meeting July 27-28 in Indianapolis. If the decisions are approved, the process will take effect Sept. 1, 2015.
“We are eager to make the transition to Division II of the NCAA,” Veres said. “We applaud Division II’s emphasis on maintaining a healthy balance between athletic and academic pursuits, a view in keeping with our AUM tradition of excellent performance in the classroom and on the courts, fields and pitches of intercollegiate athletics. AUM Athletics is ready to compete at the next level, and Division II affords us that opportunity.”
The Warhawks will begin a three-year process of transitioning to NCAA Division II from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). AUM will remain a member of the NAIA and Southern States Athletic Conference through the 2015-16 season, a transition period called Candidacy Year One with the NCAA. AUM will be eligible for postseason within both the SSAC and the NAIA during the upcoming season.
In Candidacy Year Two, the Warhawks will begin competing in a conference at the NCAA Division II level. Prior to submitting its application for membership on Feb. 1 of this year, AUM received a letter of support of its application from the Peach Belt Conference and its Board of Directors.
Following completion of Candidacy Year Three, traditionally known as a provisional year, the Warhawks will gain full NCAA membership and become eligible to compete for NCAA Division II championships, beginning as early as 2016-17. The Division II membership committee annually determines if an institution should be moved forward into the next candidacy year, and it can require an institution to repeat a year if progress is not sufficient.
“We are so grateful to the tremendous support received from the Auburn University Board of Trustees, Chancellor Veres, our Senior Administration, our student body and the SGA leadership, and our faculty and staff throughout this process,” said Crotz. “Our Department of Athletics staff has worked diligently over several years to ensure that our academic support and performance, our total sport sponsorships and achievements, our facility enhancements, our branding, and our infrastructure positioned AUM to be accepted into the membership process for NCAA DII. The dedication and commitment of the entire campus has brought this goal to fruition. Now the real work begins as we further transition our department and institution into compliance as a NCAA Division II member, with the total focus on the student-athlete experience.”
Auburn Montgomery has a storied history of athletic success. AUM teams have captured 25 NAIA National Championships, earning 14 titles in women’s tennis, nine in men’s tennis and a pair in softball. Additionally, the institution has 21 national runner-up finishes in six different sports. The Warhawks’ 10 programs have combined to win 10 conference and district championships. AUM also sports a winning percentage of .594 or better in all eight of its head-to-head sports.
Recently, AUM finished 40th among all NAIA institutions in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings with 345.50 points. The Warhawks ranked second in the SSAC, trailing only William Carey University, which finished 37th. The Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup was developed as a joint effort between the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and USA Today. Points are awarded based on each institution’s finish in up to 12 sports (six women’s and six men’s). AUM has finished no worse than 53rd in the 20-year history of the Directors’ Cup and has placed as high as 10th (2000–01 academic year).
Perhaps even more impressive is the academic success of the Warhawks during the past year, as a record-setting number of student-athletes achieved a 3.0 grade point average or better. During the 2014 fall semester, 120 student-athletes, managers, and student and graduate assistants from the department earned a 3.0 GPA or better, a mark that accounted for 63 percent of all student-athletes. AUM athletes exceeded that mark during the 2015 spring semester, when 122 were honored on the Athletic Academic Honor Roll. In addition, seven of the 10 teams posted a team GPA of 3.0 or higher, while the department combined for a term grade point average of 3.02. During the 2014–15 season, 33 student-athletes were named to their respective SSAC All-Academic teams, while seven student-athletes earned NAIA Scholar Athlete honors.