Division I move adds excitement, positions

Special to the Logos

Hundreds of Cardinals fans attended the July 1 celebration on campus marking the official entrance of the University of the Incarnate Word to Division I.

UIW’s longtime president, Dr. Louis J. Agnese Jr., and Southland Conference Commissioner Tom Burnett raised the conference flag, officially commemorating UIW’s first day in the NCAA Division I Southland Conference.

The university was previously a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference.

“This is a truly historic day for UIW,” Agnese said. “We’re pleased and honored to officially become a member of the Southland Conference.”

UIW is undergoing a four-year shift to Division I with the Southland Conference’s assistance and oversight. Already, several new athletic administrative moves have been made or positions added for the move.

It is expected that UIW will begin counting as an NCAA Division I team for scheduling purposes in 2014-15, and will be fully eligible for NCAA Championship events in 2017-18. In total, UIW sponsors 21 teams in nine men’s and 10 women’s sports,  at the time more than any other NCAA Division II school in the state of Texas.

UIW’s journey to Division 1 began July 20, 2012, when UIW hosted a four-member delegation from Southland.  The visit familiarized the delegation and its members with the university and Cardinals athletics.

The Southland Conference participates in the NCAA’s Division I for all sports; for football, it participates in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Member schools of the SLC  are University of Central Arkansas, Lamar University, McNeese State University, Nicholls State University, Northwestern State University, Oral Roberts University, Sam Houston State University, Southeastern Louisiana University, Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi.

“This is an exciting time for UIW as we become a member of Southland, a high-caliber Division I conference,” Athletic Director Mark Papich said. “Joining the Southland Conference is the next step in the journey Dr. Agnese envisioned for UIW over 25 years ago.”.

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