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ATHLETICS AFFILIATION TASK FORCE PRESENTS RECOMMENDATIONSA task force appointed to review the national affiliation of Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s athletic program has unanimously recommended that the institution begin an exploration of membership with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).


The 12-member task force believes membership in the NCAA’s Division II provides Northwestern and its student-athletes with numerous advantages over its current membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).


Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, said she and her administrative team will review the recommendation and determine the appropriate course of action.


“We will begin a comprehensive review of Division II membership requirements and demographics to determine areas where we meet membership benchmarks and determine areas where we would need additional investment,” said Cunningham. “A decision of this magnitude affects the entire university, not just athletics. We will spend as much time and energy as needed to make the best decision for everyone associated with Northwestern.”


Bob Battisti, athletics director, said Northwestern matches up well with other Oklahoma regional institutions that are members of the NCAA in terms of facilities, but that Northwestern would need to increase the number of scholarships provided to student-athletes and add additional athletics office personnel.


In its recommendation, the task force pointed out a number of advantages to NCAA membership: including renewing ties with former in-state rivals; connecting the university with the image and brand name of the NCAA; fiscal stability of the NCAA and full reimbursement for participation in national postseason play; consistency of governance, rules and regulations; and increased academic standards for initial eligibility of student-athletes.


The task force did note that continued membership in the NAIA offered the university a more affordable avenue for intercollegiate athletics competition and the ability to be more competitive on a national scale.


The task force was comprised of administrators, faculty, staff, student-athletes, alumni and community members.