June 1, 2006
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, firstname.lastname@example.org,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, email@example.com
California State University, Bakersfield today entered the next phase of the university's five-year move to National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I athletics, university officials announced.
CSUB on Wednesday forwarded to NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis confirmation of its intention to advance to the first year of the four-year transitional period.
In a letter to Bo Kerin, NCAA associate director of membership services, CSUB President Horace Mitchell wrote, "This letter serves as confirmation of our intention to advance to first year reclassified status. As required, enclosed is our initial Intercollegiate Athletics Strategic Plan for 2006-2011. This plan addresses the Division I philosophy statement and certification operating principles."
The declaration means CSUB will start playing Division I opponents during the 2006-07 academic year, and will take on a full Division I schedule in 2007-08. Roadrunner teams and athletes will be eligible to win NCAA championships in all sports after 2009-10, the last year of the reclassification process. The move will not affect the Roadrunner wrestling, which already competes at the Division I level, or the water polo team, which competes in a combined Division I, II and III championship.
The university is in the process of raising $6 million to help fund the added costs of Division I affiliation. To that end a team of athletics and university advancement officials and community leaders has been working to raise a portion of that money from community sources. CSUB students voted in spring 2005 to increase their campus fees to help fund the move at about $1 million per year.
Of the $6 million being raised, $2.5 million is to launch a baseball program.
This past week CSUB received two more major gifts bringing the campaign total to more than $3.5 million. More than $700,000 is earmarked for the baseball program, which the university will launch as soon as the fundraising goal is reached. The ideal scenario would be to hire a head coach during the next academic year (2006-07) and field a team in 2007-08.
"It's clear to me that with this kind of enthusiasm and this kind of momentum in the community that Bakersfield wants a Division I athletics program," Mitchell said. "This move not only provides our student athletes with top-notch competition, but also adds to the university's overall excellence. Further, it elevates Bakersfield, a proud city with a proud history and a proud university. This is a great day for both the university and the city."
Dan Gianoutsos, the outgoing Associated Students, Inc., president at CSUB and an instrumental force in the push for Division I, sees multiple benefits from the move.
"The students will benefit from the move to Division I, as it will increase school spirit, enhance student life, and add recognition to their degrees," he said. "But this is more than athletics; it's for the students, the campus community, and the Bakersfield community. Bakersfield is growing fast and moving forward, and with this move CSUB is showing that it's taking a leadership role in this process. Division I is the first step.
"It has always been said that CSUB would some day go Division I. Well, some day has come."
The shift to Division I isn't an overnight process, and CSUB is about a fifth of the way through. It is completing its exploratory year, during which no major changes occurred and the university was still able to compete in the Division II playoffs.
The university now enters its first transition year, 2006-07. During this next year, CSUB must comply with all minimum Division I contest and participation requirements, though it will not be required to play a full Division I schedule. Key administrators must attend the NCAA Convention and orientation meeting. The university is ineligible for post-season playoffs for a four-year period.
During the 2007-08 academic year CSUB must be in full compliance with all Division I legislation and membership requirements. Teams will be on a full Division I schedule but remain ineligible to compete for NCAA championships.
In 2009-10 the university must complete an NCAA certification evaluation visit and self study process evaluation. The Roadrunners would still be ineligible for a Division I championship.
The 2010-11 academic year would be CSUB's first official year as a full-fledged Division I member.