Northwestern accepted into NCAA membership process

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Northwestern accepted into NCAA membership process

July 18, 2012

 Div II Press Conference
Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, along with Andy Carter, athletic director, announced during a press conference that Northwestern received notification that the NCAA has approved its application to begin the Division II membership process.

 Press Conference Video

The goal of providing Northwestern Oklahoma State University’s athletic programs with a secure, long-term national affiliation has received a huge boost as the school announced today it has been accepted into the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II membership process.

“Today is an historic and groundbreaking day for Northwestern as we begin our relationship with the NCAA and the Great American Conference (GAC),” said Dr. Janet Cunningham, president. “The move to the NCAA and the GAC will provide the best possible experience for our student-athletes, secure the long-term future of intercollegiate athletics at Northwestern, and align the University with the most-recognized brand in college sports.”

With the announcement, Northwestern immediately begins the multi-year process to becoming an active member of Division II. Beginning on Sept. 1, the school will begin the first year of the candidacy period in which it begins to familiarize itself with the structure, philosophy, function and expectations of Division II. If successful, the NCAA will move the school to year two of the candidacy period.

Following two years of successful candidacy, Northwestern will be allowed to become a provisional member of Division II, the final step before full active membership.

The NCAA reviews each school in the process annually to determine if the institution should repeat any year in the process. There is no guarantee to move from one step of the process to the next.

“We have completed the first step, an important step, in the membership process,” Cunningham said. “As an institution, we now move forward with a sense of excitement as we work to become an active member of the NCAA and Division II.

Until becoming an active member, Northwestern will not be eligible for national postseason play. The University ended its affiliations with the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the Sooner Athletic Conference and the Central States Football League on June 30.

Today’s announcement also means Northwestern begins the process of securing active membership in the Great American Conference. The GAC offered provisional membership in the spring of 2011.

"This is an exciting announcement for the Great American Conference,” said Will Prewitt, conference commissioner, “Our leadership has felt that Northwestern will be a good member of NCAA Division II and we're gratified that the Membership Committee has arrived at the same conclusion.

“We look forward to seeing the Rangers on conference schedules this fall and to work with the Northwestern administration through the provisional process. We offer our congratulations to President Cunningham and the entire Northwestern community on this wonderful news."

The GAC is comprised of nine active members, including three regional universities in Oklahoma and six public and private institutions in Arkansas. Southern Nazarene University also is a provisional member of the conference.

The GAC will begin incorporating Northwestern into conference schedules this fall in all sports except football, although the Rangers have several league members on its 2012 gridiron schedule.

Provisional member contests count in the GAC standings, but schools are not eligible for league titles. Football games against Northwestern and Southern Nazarene will not count this season since the schools are not playing full league schedules. All other sports will be playing countable contests in 2012-13.

Individuals and coaches from provisional members are eligible to win weekly and yearly awards, and individual sports athletes (golf, tennis, cross country) will be allowed to compete at league championship events, but no team score will be kept.

“We are anxious to begin renewing some long-time rivalries and establishing some new ones as we begin competing against GAC schools,” said Andy Carter, director of athletics. “Our coaches and student-athletes are excited about the opportunities and are anxious to prove they are up to challenge of competing successfully in the conference.

“As a department, we are fortunate that we spent the last year transitioning to a NCAA operation. This places us far ahead as we move through the membership process.”

Cunningham said there is a sense of relief that Northwestern has been accepted into the membership process, but acknowledges there is much work ahead.

“Andy Carter, and our previous athletic director Bob Battisti, devoted many hours in positioning our athletics program to be successful in this endeavor,” Cunningham said. “I have confidence in our athletic leadership, our coaches and our student-athletes that they will blaze a successful trail into the NCAA and the GAC.”