As was first reported online at www.wilsonpost.com, an announcement / press conference was held Wednesday afternoon, Aug. 7in Labry Hall -- the building that once served as the home of the storied Cumberland Junior College basketball program.This is the first step in what we hope is a successful move into NCAA Division II, said Director of Athletics Ron Pavan. Dr. Eaton and the Board of Trust have been major supporters of the athletic department and its student-athletes and this is even further evidence that the University continues to move forward to enhance the experience and competitiveness of all of the athletic teams.NCAA guidelines specify that an institution must be sponsored by a conference in order to apply to the association.Cumberlands provisional membership in the G-MAC paves the way for the University to apply for membership in February 2014 and the NCAA would notify the institution in July 2014 if accepted into Division II candidacy, which would begin a three-year transitional phase for CU from its current membership in the NAIA into the NCAA.One of the advantages of NCAA membership is the lucrative contract with CBS Sports to broadcast the Division I mens basketball tournament.NCAA Division II gets a 4.7 percent share of that mega-deal, which is used to play postseason travel expenses.That is not the case in the NAIA, as costs of travel to conference, regional and national competitions are borne by the individual institutions.We enjoy the Mid-South and the NAIA, Pavan said, their core values, the Champions of Character program is outstanding. I just dont see growth of institutions going into the NAIA.Cumberland, which sponsors 18 sports, will continue as a full-fledged member of the Mid-South Conference and the NAIA for the current 2013-2014 academic year and will host the MSC mens and womens basketball tournaments in March.CU officials shouldnt expect a warm and fuzzy send-off from the MSC as the league traditionally has black balled members who choose to bolt for Division II.
Building schedules and transportation for the 2014-15 and 2015-2016 academic years could prove to be a challenge as Cumberland coaches wont have a ready pool of MSC teams upon which to base a schedule.
Cumberland must also hire an a compliance officer to help navigate the athletic department through the massive NCAA rule book. And most importantly, Bulldog athletic programs will find themselves in a competitive purgatory, stranded for at least two full seasons between their NAIA roots and the promised land of the NCAA.That part is going to be tough, said coach Woody Hunt, whos baseball program has become the NAIA gold standard.We went through this back in the early eighties when we transitioned from junior college into four-year status, Hunt said. Well continue to recruit the same kids, recruit them just as hard -- and trust me -- well always find something to play for. But I know that after this season, our guys will miss out on that experience of going to Lewiston for the World Series. Theres nothing like it anywhere.Change is a part of life -- well embrace it and move forward.The G-MAC currently has eight active NCAA Division II members, including Alderson Broaddus University (Philippi, W.Va.), Cedarville University (Cedarville, Ohio), Central State University (Wilberforce, Ohio), Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, W.Va.), Kentucky Wesleyan College (Owensboro, Ky.), Ohio Valley University (Vienna, W.Va.), Salem International University (Salem, W.Va.), and Ursuline College (Pepper Pike, Ohio).Cumberlands longtime rival Trevecca Nazarene (Nashville) has moved into the third (provisional) and final year of the NCAA DII membership process, while Georgetown College (Georgetown, Ky.) is also a provisional member and will also apply for NCAA DII membership.Of those schools, the only ones presently playing football are Kentucky Wesleyan, Central State and Alderson Broaddus.The eventual addition of Cumberland and Georgetown leaves the G-MAC just one school shy of six teams -- the minimum required for postseason eligibility.There are plans in place to start with six football playing members, then move to eight, Pavan said.That would eventually allow every team in the league the flexibility to schedule a game against an FCS team (such as Tennessee Tech, UT-Chattanooga, Austin Peay) as a way to boost their budget.
By TOMMY BRYAN / firstname.lastname@example.org