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The NCAA Division II Membership Committee has determined that the Embry-Riddle Athletics program has successfully completed the transition from the NAIA to full-fledged NCAA II membership.
The announcement was made on Monday by University President Dr. Barry Butler at a press conference in the university’s Henderson Welcome Center.
“Whether it is in the classroom or in athletic competition, our student athletes are held to the highest standards,” said Butler. “This inclusion in a nationally recognized organization such as the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association that shares this vision affirms our ongoing commitment as a university to student diversity, opportunity and success.”
Achieving full NCAA Division II membership is a three-year process and Embry-Riddle officially started the journey in 2014.After playing its final season of NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) competition in 2014-15, the Eagles played the last two seasons against NCAA II competition, but as a provisional member, the program was not eligible for team/individual awards or postseason play.
As a full member, the Eagles are now eligible for the postseason in both the Sunshine State Conference and the NCAA, as well as all NCAA and SSC individual and team awards.
“This is a major milestone in the history of Embry-Riddle and a crowning moment for years’ worth of work from dozens of individuals on our campus,” Embry-Riddle Director of Athletics John Phillips said.
“This is much, much more than just a transition for our athletic department, it’s transformational for the entire university. This transition has been a collaborative effort from numerous departments on campus and dozens of faculty and staff from across the campus.”
The Blue and Gold will look to continue a tradition of excellence as they begin the Division II era of the athletics program.
Embry-Riddle enjoyed great success throughout its time as a member of the NAIA and The Sun Conference, winning 104 regular season Sun Conference championships, 32 Sun Conference tournament titles, 29 individual national championships, as well as the 2000 Men’s Basketball national championship and the 2013 Men’s Tennis title.
Embry-Riddle also won 16 consecutive SunConference Commissioner’s Cup titles and finished in the top 10 in the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup every year from 2008 to 2015.
22 sports now
“During our 25-plus year history, we’ve become known for our academic success, our commitment to community service and for being a school committed to the integrity of the student-athlete experience,” Phillips said. “This will not change. We remain committed to the Student-Person-Player concept that has served us so well.”
Embry-Riddle has seen its athletics program grow from just three sports in 1988 to 22 sports in less than 30 years. The newest additions to the department include men’s and women’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s rowing, which will all compete in their inaugural seasons next spring.
“We’re excited for our future and eager to begin this new challenge in the NCAA and the Sunshine State Conference,” Phillips said. “The brand of the NCAA is immediately recognizable everywhere you go, both here in the United States and internationally.”
Sept. 1 change
The membership change is expected to take effect Sept. 1.
At that time, the Eagles will be eligible to compete in NCAA-sanctioned postseason competition.
Embry-Riddle’s first contest as a full-fledged member of Division II will be held on Aug. 31 when the men’s soccer team hosts Francis Marion University (S.C.) at the Embry-Riddle Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m.