(July 23, 2009)

Courtesy of The NCAA News: Centenary Plans Move to Division III

Original Article: Centenary (Louisiana) Plans Move To Division III

Jul 23, 2009 8:08:22 AM

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Centenary (Louisiana) will reclassify to Division III when its two-year commitment to the Summit League expires. The school's trustees voted to make the move to a division that "better reflects the mission, education philosophy and financial structure" of the school.

School officials also said Division III's focus on academics and the scholar-athlete is more in keeping with Centenary's goals.

In May, the school decided to leave the Summit League to pursue a more geographically advantageous affiliation. Because conference rules require two years' notice, the school will apply for reclassification in spring 2010.

Ed Crawford, acting chair of Centenary's board of trustees, called the move "one part of a wide-ranging plan" that will be implemented by incoming President David Rowe.

"Centenary must and will restructure its overall strategy to achieve financial and academic stability," Crawford said. "We on the board look forward to working with President Rowe as he helps rebuild an even more firmly established Centenary College as a leading institution of higher education in the South and in the nation."

The school had several teams subject to penalties as part of the NCAA's Academic Performance Program, including its men's basketball team that is banned from NCAA postseason next year. That circumstance could force the school into restricted Division I membership if its academic performance doesn't improve. Centenary's women's volleyball and men's soccer teams also received penalties in the most recent cycle.

"The academic progress of our students plays a role in every decision that Centenary College makes," Rick DelaHaya, Centenary's director of marketing and communications, said in an e-mail. "Every academic, athletic and co-curricular program must support the successful academic achievement of our students, whether that achievement is publicly monitored, as is the case in NCAA Division I, or not."

Centenary officials said the two-year commitment to the Summit League means student-athlete aid will not affected by the move to Division III, which does not allow schools to offer athletics aid. Reclassifying institutions must stop offering athletics aid to incoming students in the first year of reclassification and, after the completion of the second year, may not offer athletics aid at all.

The reclassification process takes four years, though schools that meet the membership standards can apply for a waiver after two years. The application deadline for reclassification is June 1 before the start of the four-year program. Schools cannot participate as a Division III member (in championships, voting at Convention) until active membership is achieved.

DelaHaya said that the school has encountered "passionate engagement about the long-term best interests of Centenary College" in recent days.

"Both Division I and Division III proponents have been expressing their deep love for the institution," he said, noting disappointment from those who would prefer the school remain in Division I and enthusiasm from those who think the school is better suited for Division III.

"Both groups, which are making their opinions known, have the long-term best interests of Centenary at heart and want nothing more than to see her succeed," DelaHaya said.