By Adrian Leal
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
The University of the Incarnate Word was extended an official invitation to join the NCAA’s Division I Southland Conference at a packed Aug. 20 news conference in Rosenberg Skyroom.
In a room filled with news reporters, student-athletes representing various sports, faculty and staff, UIW Athletic Director Mark Papich opened up the conference with a brief introduction followed by the projected invitation given by SLC Commissioner Tom Burnett.
UIW, presently an NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference member, will begin a four-year transition into Division I athletics, which will go into effect July 1, 2013. As of the 2014-15 school year, UIW will be considered an NCAA Division I school for scheduling purposes and will be eligible to officially compete for NCAA championships during the 2017-18 school year.
So this is the last year UIW will compete in NCAA Division II. Since 2007-08, 20 teams have been crowned champions in their leagues and advanced to the postseason. Incarnate Word now has 21 total teams competing in men and women’s sports.
It’s a legacy now headed for Southland.
“We are truly blessed to be joining such an outstanding conference like the Southland,” said Dr. Louis J. Agnese Jr.
Southland Board Chairman Dr. Baker Pattillo said he was honored upon receiving UIW’s acceptance of the SLC offer and looks forward to a “…beneficial partnership with UIW.”
After the hoopla, UIW cheerleaders chanted “U-I-W,” as those on hand began to converse with one another about the news.
“It’s an exciting time for the university and its athletic program,” said former Cardinal baseball player Matthew Flores, now a graduate assistant. “Division I is a big step forward and the preparation to compete at a high level starts now.”
Although the shift to Division I looks promising for UIW Athletics’ future, not being able to compete in the postseason for four years falls at the feet of current student-athletes.
“It’s disappointing knowing we won’t be able to compete and accumulate points in next year’s meets,” said swimmer Kelsey Cooke, a junior. “So we really have to ensure that we do well in competition this year.”
UIWTV Reporter: Kevin Barton
UIWTV Operations Manager: Oscar Delagarza