AZUSA, Calif. – Azusa Pacific University received word Monday that the school’s application for National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) membership in Division II has been approved for the three-year membership process.
"Acceptance of our application for membership into NCAA Division II represents a great honor and distinction for our university. This occasion also reflects our genuine desire to raise the bar on intercollegiate athletic competition following nearly five decades of active and highly successful membership in the NAIA," said Azusa Pacific University President Jon R. Wallace, DBA. "We look forward to achieving full membership and are enthusiastic about the prospect of competition at a new level, one that will bolster our athletic program, strengthen our institutional image, and exemplify our shared values."
The Cougars will continue as an active member of the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) within the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) for the 2011-12 school year while it serves what is called Candidacy Year One with the NCAA. Azusa Pacific, which gained its first national affiliation with the NAIA in 1965, and the Cougars have claimed an unprecedented seven consecutive NAIA Directors’ Cups, the annual trophy awarded to the best athletics program in the NAIA.
Beginning with Candidacy Year Two (2012-13), Azusa Pacific will join the Pacific West (PacWest) Conference in all sports but football, which will compete in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference (GNAC). After completing Year Three (2013-14) of the membership process, which is traditionally known as a provisional year, the Cougars will gain full NCAA membership and become eligible to compete for NCAA Division II championships beginning as early as 2014-15. 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.
“There is a sense of honor and gratitude that the NCAA would find us worthy to enter into its membership,” said Azusa Pacific Director of Athletics Gary Pine. “This marks a new journey and a new challenge for our athletic program, one that excites our coaches, our student-athletes, our faculty/staff, and our alumni. The next three years will be a time of transition with moments that will test us in all facets of our program, but I am confident that we will reach active membership by 2014, and along the way forge new relationships with the NCAA, PacWest and GNAC members while maintaining friendships with colleagues in the NAIA with whom we have worked alongside for decades.”
Azusa Pacific’s 19-sport athletics program (eight men’s and 10 women’s) has claimed 36 NAIA championships in 11 different sports, picking up a conference-record 108 GSAC titles in 12 of the conference’s 13 sports. Fifteen of the Cougars’ 19 sports will compete in the PacWest, with football in the GNAC, and two others (women’s swimming & diving and women’s water polo) will compete as independent within NCAA Division II. The Cougars’ acrobatics & tumbling program is not yet recognized as a Division II sport within the NCAA, although it will continue to compete against other NCAA programs.
About The NCAA
Founded in 1906, the NCAA oversees 88 championships in 23 sports. There are more than 400,000 student-athletes competing in three divisions at over 1,000 colleges and universities within the NCAA. There are currently 302 Division II member institutions, with 21 institutions advancing through the membership process. There are presently 15 Division II members in the state of California, a number that increases to 16 with the addition of Azusa Pacific, and could potentially grow beyond 16 members should the NCAA approve applications for membership from other California schools. The average enrollment of Division II schools is 4,236, with 2010 membership composed of smaller public universities (52 percent) and private institutions (48 percent). The emphasis on the student-athlete experience in Division II is a comprehensive program of learning and development in a personal setting. The Division II approach provides growth opportunities through academic achievement, learning in high-level athletics competition and development of positive societal attitudes in service to community. The balance and integration of these different areas of learning opportunity provide Division II student-athletes a path to graduation, while cultivating a variety of skills and knowledge for life ahead.
About Azusa Pacific University
Azusa Pacific University is located in the San Gabriel Valley community of Azusa, 26 miles northeast of Los Angeles. A leader in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, APU is committed to excellence in higher education. Offering over 80 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs on campus, online, and at seven regional centers across Southern California, APU has been recognized as one of U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges for seven years running. APU students have more than 40 national and international study opportunities, including High Sierra Program, L.A. Term, study abroad programs, South Africa Semester, Azusa Oxford Semester. APU’s full-time undergraduate enrollment in 2010-11 was 4,708, with students attending from 70 different countries and all 50 states plus Guam, Puerto Rico, and Armed Forces Pacific.