SIU-Edwardsville Aspires To Division I Status

There are a couple of stories coming out of Edwardsville IL that impact our local college teams. The SIU-Edwardsville Cougars have decided they want to be a Division I program.

From the St Louis Post-Dispatch article

After more than 15 months of deliberation and study, Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift told the university’s Board of Trustees today that he was recommending that the school move up a notch to NCAA Division I athletics.

But it’s far from a done deal. The board must vote on the move and is expected to do so at its March 1 meeting.

Even if the Board agrees to the move, there is a one year buyout clause in the agreement with the Great Lakes Valley Conference. So there will be no change in the soccer schedules for the 2007 Fall season. The Cougars have attracted two players from local programs however, two of the top offensive threats we’ve seen recently. More on that later.

SIU-Edwardsville has been exploring this for awhile. And it won’t be cheap. $2 million is the estimate which equals approximately $150 per student (in increased fees). The report compiled by a Task Force to look into the possibility also notes that most programs spend more then estimated. And while the arguments on the STLsoccer.net message board are about the teams ability to compete at Division I, apparently no one is concerned that the Men’s team could face elimination like many programs in the region. The Missouri Valley Conference would appear to be the best bet, a nice addition that with the possibility of the University of Central Arkansas also entering the Conference would boost member programs to seven.

Other possibilities might include the Horizon League, the same Conference as the University of Illinois – Chicago Flames or maybe the Mid-Continent Conference, home of the Western Illinois Leathernecks, Oral Roberts and UMKC, regular MSU non-conference opponents.

For an inside look at the costs and potential benefits, check out the SIU-Edwardsville Intercollegiate Athletic Task Force (IATF) Outcome Table

At least $2,000,000 in additional operational costs, in 2006 dollars, excluding facility maintenance costs. This equates to an approximate $150 annual student fee increase. Resources for academic support services will need to be increased. Costs included in operational dollars above includes additional athletic academic advisor, additional 27 scholarships (assuming $13,000 per full scholarship), and classroom instruction – tutoring.

Conference entry and exit fees will vary depending on conference. GLVC Exit Fee equates to $25,000 and one year’s notice. Entry fee for Division I conferences varies from $50,000 to $200,000. To reclassify to Division I is a five year process. First year is a probationary period where teams still compete in Division II. The next four years teams compete in Division I, but are not eligible for NCAA championship competition. We expect travel costs to increase in the four year transitional phase or until accepted in conference.

According to NCAA personnel and NCAA reports most universities that have reclassified to Division I have experienced costs which were more expensive than planned.

More information can be found at the Task Force website.courtesan nyc