CENTRAL – After a lengthy appeal process, Southern Wesleyan University is now on the path to NCAA membership.
The NCAA accepted the university’s application after an appeal hearing last week.
NCAA officials announced this week Southern Wesleyan can start the process towards NCAA Division II membership and join Conference Carolinas.
Southern Wesleyan was initially denied membership in July.
“It was really hard,” Southern Wesleyan Athletic Director Chris Williams said of the university’s initial rejection. “This has been a three-year process for us and on July 12 when we got the ‘no’ it was hard. It was emotional because we had put our heart and soul into this thing.”
“Now, it’s still a little bit of a shock,” Williams said. “To have the tables turn in our favor, it is truly a God story.”
Achieving full NCAA Division II membership typically takes three years, provided the athletic department successfully completes each phase of the membership process. Southern Wesleyan will spend two years in candidacy status, and then one year as a provisional member before gaining full membership status.
The earliest Southern Wesleyan can become a full member is the 2016-17 academic year.
“This year is the year we start going to meetings and understanding what it is we have to look forward to,” Southern Wesleyan President Dr. Todd Voss said. “In year two, we’ll start competition, but we won’t be eligible for post-season play. In year three, you’re a full-fledged member and I believe we’ll be very competitive.”
Voss said his school made a strong case in the recent appeal hearing.
“It was a restatement of who we were and a chance for us to give an explanation of some of the areas they thought we weren’t prepared,” Voss said. “We felt good about what we had to share, and that it was probably additional information that they hadn’t received.”
“When you finally get to the end of the process and you find out you made it, it changes everything,” Voss said. “It’s really exciting.”
Voss said he believes Southern Wesleyan athletes will adjust nicely to the new competition.
“It will be an easy acclimation for us,” Voss said. “We’ll have to get to know the various institutions and their level of play, but it’s really going to help our athletic program.”
Williams said it is an opportunity for the school to renew rivalries and brand itself with the NCAA
“We can’t wait to be able to renew some of those rivalries,” Williams said. “It’s a great reconnection for alumni who have been looking for that connection with their university. “
“This give us the opportunity to brand ourselves with the NCAA,” Williams continued. “I think that creates a buzz. When we walk into those living rooms now, we don’t have to explain necessarily who we are, but that we’re part of the NCAA and it will explain itself.