Nearly six years ago, a task force comprised of university personnel and community leaders urged Northwestern Oklahoma State University officials to develop a plan to gain membership in Division II of the NCAA to provide long-term security to the school’s athletic programs.
Today, the plan took one giant step toward becoming reality as the Division II Membership Committee voted to approve Northwestern for active membership in the organization, one of the final hurdles in the rigorous three-step process.
Formal ratification of the Membership Committee’s decision is expected to be made by the Division II Management Council later this summer. When ratified, Northwestern will be moved to active status on Sept. 1.
“Today is truly a landmark day in the long history of Northwestern and its athletics programs,” Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, said. “We began this process realizing the challenges presented by moving to Division II, but also understanding the opportunities awaiting our student-athletes, coaches and fans.
“I am grateful to Andy Carter (Director of Athletics) and his staff for their work in leading us through the process, and also to the staff members of many other departments such as registry, financial aid and student services, who played an integral role in adapting our processes to comply with NCAA regulations.”
Active status in Division II means that Northwestern also will gain championship eligibility and voting rights in the Great American Conference (GAC). After four seasons of being unable to compete for postseason play, Ranger athletes will now be eligible to compete in GAC tournaments. NCAA titles are now up for grabs as well through regional and national tournaments.
"The Great American Conference is excited to add Northwestern Oklahoma State University into active membership,” Will Prewitt, GAC commissioner, said. “Congratulations to President Cunningham, Andy Carter and the entire community of Alva for achieving full NCAA Division II membership. Their hard work throughout the provisional process has been outstanding. We can't wait to the see the Rangers competing in GAC championships beginning this fall."
As part of the membership process, Northwestern committed to improve the student-athlete experience through upgrades in athletic facilities, travel and sports medicine, along with additional athletic scholarships. Carter said that commitment allowed the process to be a successful one.
“The support from President Cunningham, the administration and the administrative departments, along with the amazing support given by our alumni and friends, proved our commitment to building a competitive Division II program,” he said.
“I am extremely proud of my staff and coaches for their dedicated work throughout this process. We now turn our attention to competing for GAC titles. The expectations of our coaches and student-athletes are high, and I know they are ready for the chance to build upon the rich tradition of Ranger athletics.”
Cunningham acknowledged those student-athletes and coaches who paved the way for NCAA membership.
“We have spent four seasons unable to compete for championships during this transition, and I know that was difficult for our teams,” she said. “I am proud and thankful for the hundreds of student-athletes and coaches who represented us during this time. They competed hard every day for the true love of the game. They were trailblazers, and this day is as much about them as it is about the future.”
Northwestern wishes to show its gratitude to the community for its support by playing host to a community picnic on Tuesday, July 21, beginning at 5:30 p.m. The picnic will be on the north lawn of campus near “The Ranger” and will feature hot dogs and drinks. A brief program will begin at 6 p.m. Limited seating will be available so lawn chairs are encouraged. In the case of rain, the picnic will be moved inside to the Student Center Ballroom.
Posted on Thu, July 16, 2015
by Valarie Case filed under