AZUSA, Calif. –- In the final step of a three-year membership application process, the NCAA Division II Management Council formally approved Azusa Pacific University for full Division II membership, which was recommended by the Division II Membership Committee two weeks earlier.
Azusa Pacific was notified Wednesday of the decision, putting the finishing touches on the three-year application and membership transition, which allows the Cougars to compete in NCAA Division II postseason play and enjoy all membership privileges effective September 1.
Azusa Pacific’s 19-sport athletics program (eight men’s and 11 women’s) has claimed 51 national championships in 12 different sports, winning 37 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) national titles along with 13 National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) championships and one Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) title. While competing in the NAIA, Azusa Pacific won 112 Golden State Athletic Conference championships in 12 of the conference’s 13 sports. In its first two years of competition within NCAA Division II, Azusa Pacific won four conference championships, claiming Pacific West Conference titles in women’s cross country (2012, 2013) and women’s soccer (2013), along with the 2013 Great Northwest Athletic Conference championship in football.
Fifteen of the Cougars’ 19 sports now compete in the PacWest, while three sports hold affiliate conference memberships with the GNAC for football, Pacific Collegiate Swim and Dive Conference for women’s swimming and diving, and the Golden Coast Conference for women’s water polo. The Cougars’ acrobatics & tumbling program competes under the umbrella of the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association with other NCAA programs, but the NCAA does not currently sponsor a championship for acrobatics and tumbling.
Eight schools advanced to full membership, giving NCAA Division II 300 active members. The other schools who completed the three-year membership process and advanced to full membership were Point Loma Nazarene University, Roberts Wesleyan (N.Y.) University, Shorter (Ga.) University, Southern Nazarene (Okla.) University, Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) University, Union (Tenn.) University, and Young Harris (Ga.) College.
Azusa Pacific reaction to NCAA approval of active Division II status
President Jon R. Wallace, DBA: “Admission into NCAA Division II represents a significant achievement for our university. The three-year process drew together campus colleagues to establish best practices to advance our Athletics program and reflect our core values. In the years to come, we know this partnership will bolster our athletic program, strengthen our institutional image, and exemplify our shared values.”
Vice President for Student Life, Terry Franson: “Azusa Pacific has had a wonderful experience in athletics as a long-time member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. After winning the NAIA Directors’ Cup for eight consecutive years, we hoped we would be a great addition to NCAA Division II, and we are pleased to gain full membership in such a prestigious organization. There is no greater call for us than the character development of our student-athletes as our teams pursue championships, and we know these are core and central in our new home of NCAA Division II.”
Athletics Director Gary Pine: “On behalf of the entire Azusa Pacific intercollegiate athletics program, we’re proud to be full and active members of the NCAA. The transition process of the past three years has been an excellent endeavor that has made us a better and stronger athletic program, one that operates at a better efficiency and with a renewed and stronger partnership with the entire university. I’m very pleased with the enthusiasm and positive attitude our entire athletic staff displayed through the transition. Change is rarely easy, and the move to the NCAA created challenges that our coaches and staff tackled with perseverance and a singular focus to become active and respected members of the NCAA. The future of Cougar athletics is bright and hopeful. We look forward to participating in the advancement of college athletics through the NCAA.”
Student Athletic Advisory Committee (SAAC) President & Men’s Soccer Student-Athlete Cole Lambert: “As a student-athlete, the past few years have been a great preparation for this new experience, where every Azusa Pacific athlete has the opportunity to test their skills at a new level. Everybody is thrilled and excited to start this new era and to see what we can do at this level while we represent Azusa Pacific. A lot of our teams are young teams that have improved during the adjustment to this level of competition over the past two years.”
Significant dates in Azusa Pacific’s three-year transition to active Division II membership
July 11, 2011 | NCAA accepts Azusa Pacific’s application for Division II membership, beginning a three-year transition to full membership
March 3, 2012 | Claimed NAIA women’s indoor track and field national championship, which was Azusa Pacific’s 37th and final NAIA national championship
April 28, 2012 | Won Golden State Athletic Conference titles in baseball, women’s track and field, and men’s track and field, concluding GSAC membership with 112 conference championships
July 13, 2012 | NCAA approves Azusa Pacific for Division II Year Two Candidacy
September 8, 2012 | Azusa Pacific plays at Humboldt State in football program’s first-ever conference game (Great Northwest Athletic Conference)
September 11, 2012 | Women’s volleyball hosts California Baptist in Azusa Pacific’s first-ever Pacific West Conference contest
October 27, 2012 | Women’s cross country claims Azusa Pacific’s first-ever PacWest championship
July 17, 2013 | NCAA approves Azusa Pacific for provisional membership in Division II
July 11, 2014 | NCAA Division II Membership Committee recommends Azusa Pacific for active membership status
July 23, 2014 | NCAA Division II Management Council approves membership committee recommendation to grant Azusa Pacific active membership status
September 4, 2014 | Azusa Pacific hosts Grand Valley State in a football game televised nationally by CBS College Sports Network, and women’s soccer hosts Sonoma State on the first date of competition for APU as an active Division II member
About the NCAA
Founded in 1906, the NCAA conducts 89 championships in 23 sports across Divisions I, II and III, with 44 championships administered for women and 42 for men. There are currently 300 Division II active member institutions, with 18 institutions currently advancing through the membership process. There are presently 20 Division II institutions in the state of California. The average enrollment of Division II schools is 4,209 students, with 2013-14 membership composed of 50 percent public and 50 percent private institutions. A regionalization philosophy is used to select teams for Division II national championships brackets from four, six or eight geographic regions of the country. This emphasis on being the best team in your geographic area helps schools prioritize scheduling of regional opponents, limit missed class time and manage travel expenses.
NCAA Division II is a collection of 300 colleges and universities that provide thousands of student-athletes the opportunity to compete at a high level of scholarship athletics while exceling in the classroom and fully engaging in the broader campus experience. This balance, in which student-athletes are recognized for their academic success, athletics contributions, and campus and community involvement, is at the heart of the Division II philosophy.
The Division II approach provides growth opportunities through academic achievement, learning in high-level athletics competition and a focus on service to the community. The balance and integration of these different areas of learning provide Division II student-athletes with a path to graduation while cultivating a variety of skills and knowledge for life after college.
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 63 bachelor’s degrees, 43 master’s degrees, 18 certificates, 14 credentials, 8 doctoral programs, and 4 associate degrees on campus, online, and at six regional centers across Southern California, APU is consistently recognized as one of U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges. APU’s full-time undergraduate enrollment in 2013-14 was 6,543, with students attending from 41 different countries and 49 states plus Guam, Puerto Rico, and Armed Forces Pacific.