Division I moves add staff, responsibilities

By Sye Bennefield


Since joining the Southland Conference last July in its transition to Division I, the University of the Incarnate Word’s Athletic Department has been dealing with new compliance issues and responsibilities.

Division I and Division II require different necessities from their brand based on size, staff needed to run a college athletic program, and how certain programs are run based on what sports are the most prominent at their university.

Originally a Division III school, UIW is in a time of change and growth, so people who work in the Cardinal athletic program will be learning a lot during the transition, said  Stacy Nordquist, associate athletics director and compliance coordinator for UIW.

“The move to Division I will force our program to expand academically and in administration,” Nordquist said.

Two athletic academic advisers specializing in business and compliance have been hired through the Office of Student Success since becoming a member of the Southland Conference to help monitor athletics. However, the advisers also aid non-student-athletes, Nordquist said.

Financially, the move to Division I poses a few challenges. Many other individuals were hired to assist the Athletic Department because growth in the program has been significant and rapid.

Jay Bijlani was hired this past fall as the assistant athletics director of business operations to monitor financial transactions for the athletic program. And Angela Lawson, formerly women’s basketball coach, serves as an associate athletic director for academics and senior women’s administrator.

Meeting NCAA Division I compliances is a major goal of UIW wants to achieve. It will not only determine the athletic program’s growth, but also its brand.

Being a Division I member also means UIW is seeking frequent and further travels for all sports in the future.

“In the Lone Star (Conference), we were mostly Texas-based,” Nordquist said.

In the future you can expect UIW teams to travel all over the United States. This means more financial assistance and requirements are essential to meeting the NCAA’s ramifications.

Along with this theme of additions to UIW faculty, expect to see more coaches in the women’s athletic programs. The hires are not only needed in order to increase the size of the department but also to comply with the NCAA and the government.

With UIW’s brand continually growing every day, expect to see its prevalence in the community of San Antonio in its local businesses. The Athletic Department is pushing for businesses such as Wal-Mart and Academy Sports and Outdoors to sell Cardinal apparel and hats.

“We’re hoping that we can start to get into Academy Sports and places like that,” said Nordquist. “You see ‘UTSA’ all over. We’re not quite UTSA yet, but we want to get where we can have people go to stores and see our apparel.”

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