NCAA gives PacWest, Academy of Art, Dominican vote of confidence

NCAA gives PacWest, Academy of Art & Dominican vote of confidence

QUEEN CREEK, Ariz. - The NCAA Division II Membership Committee has given a thumbs-up to the Pacific West Conference's two newest members as the league prepares to kickoff its 2009-10 season of competition.

Effective September 1, Academy of Art University in San Francisco will begin its year one candidacy period as it starts its journey toward full NCAA Division II status, while Dominican University of California in San Rafael has been elevated to year two of the candidacy period.

When the NCAA II Membership Committee met July 7-9 in Indianapolis, it approved Lake Erie College as a full NCAA Division II member, moved six schools into provisional status, admitted four others into year two of the candidacy period, and accepted the application of seven new Division II programs.

"This is just outstanding for the Pacific West Conference, Academy of Art University and Dominican University of California," Bob Hogue, the commissioner of the PacWest stated. "We are extremely excited over the committee's decision and look forward to the near future when we have nine full NCAA Division II members."

In addition to Academy of Art University, Cedarville University (Cedarville, Ohio), Minot State University (Minot, North Dakota), Notre Dame College (Cleveland, Ohio), Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, British Columbia), University of Sioux Falls (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) and William Jewell College (Liberty, Missouri) each had its application accepted and now begins its jour ney t oward becoming a Division II member.

"To say that we are ecstatic is an understatement," Dr. Jamie Williams, the director of athletics at Academy of Art, said. "We absolutely believe in the process, our mission, and the opportunity to be representative of the only art establishment in the NCAA. Our goal is to continue to exceed expectations and be a viable opportunity for students who want to grow academically, athletically... and be artists." 

Elisa Stephens, the president of AAU, echoed Williams thoughts.

"My family's vision of providing intercollegiate athletics for student-artists took a huge step today with the Academy of Art University's inclusion into the NCAA at the Division II level," she said. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to compete at this level."

The Division II membership process includes a two-year candidacy period and at least one provisional year before institutions are granted active membership. If Dominican continues on its positive track, the Penguin athletic program will be granted provisional status for 2010-11.

"The transition to NCAA Division II is an important step for Dominican," Joseph R. Fink, president of the university, said. "It improves student life by providing a higher level of competition for our student-athletes and fans, and also heightens our visibility in the community."

Dominican University of California was admitted to the Pacific West Conference under exploratory status in 2008-09 and competed in an independent schedule that reflected the program's previous association with NAIA Division II.

This season, Dominican and Academy of Art will play full conference schedules, joining the PacWest's seven current NCAA Division II members in what promises to be an exciting campaign.

While Dominican and Academy of Art are not yet eligible for the NCAA II post-season, both schools are eligible for the PacWest Championships and Commissioner's Cup, while their student-athletes will be in the mix for all honors bestowed by the conference.

"This is a great step toward achieving our university goal of full NCAA membership," Terry Tumey, the new athletic director at Dominican, said. "It is due in large part to the leadership of our university, President Fink, and the hard work of Dr. Chris Leeds, our faculty athletic rep, and Marla Reid, our compliance officer."

Dominican University of California is a private university located in San Rafael, Calif., with an enrollment of 2,100. Dominican sponsors 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, eight of which compete in the PacWest - men's and women's basketball, men's golf, men's and women's soccer, softball, women's tennis and volleyball.

Academy of Art University calls the city of San Francisco home and sponsors 14 sports, including all 11 PacWest athletic programs.

Just over three years ago, the PacWest consisted of four Hawaii-based programs in Brigham Young University Hawaii, Chaminade University of Honolulu, Hawai‘i Pacific University, and the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo.

Since then, the league has ballooned by adding Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., Dixie State College of Utah, and Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif.

In 2008-09, the PacWest was granted automatic qualifiers in most of its team sports and has earned the reputation as a rising force in Division II, especially in the West Region.