Div. 1 not in NKU’s future

The population around our campus is big enough, enough students are enrolled in the school, the teams are competitive enough. So why aren’t Northern Kentucky University’s athletic teams competing at the highest level of NCAA competition.

First of all, it isn’t that simple. The university can’t just say they want to compete in NCAA Division I and do it the next season. There are many different things that must take place in order for that to happen.

First of all the administration and the community must decide if it would be beneficial to the university as a whole. The university must then be able to come up with sufficient financial backing in order to make the move.

In early 2000, the NKU athletic council formed a committee which was to consider and make recommendations regarding the future of NKU athletics. The committee was made up of administrators, students and community leaders.

One major issue the committee was researching was whether or not, it would be beneficial to the university and the community to move from competing in Division II athletics to Division I athletics. According to NKU Athletic Director, Jane Meier the committee decided it wouldn’t be in the best interest of the university to make the move at that time.

“Right now our goal is to be the best Division II program we can be,” said Meier, “not only on the field but in the classroom.”

If NKU were to ever declare a move from Division II athletics to Division I, the first thing they must do is sponsor another athletic team. NKU currently sponsors 13 teams and the minimum number of teams required for each school to compete in Division I is 14.

The university also would have to be able get money from the state to construct a new special events center to house a larger gym for more fans.

“Besides better facilities,” said Meier, “we would also have to put around an extra 2.5 million dollars into the athletic programs. That would put us on par with the average Division I conference.”

Another thing that must be done is the university would have to find a stable conference to join at the Division I level. Meier thinks this would be one of the most important things to secure if the move would ever be made.

While NKU’s enrollment stacks up with other schools in Division I athletics this does not justify the ability to make the jump. NKU’s enrollment is in the top seven percent of Division II schools. However this does not mean they could successfully move up a level.

“I’m not going to say it would never happen,” Meier said, “but if we were to make the move, we would have to be able to do it right. Right now we are better suited as a Division II program.”

While it would be fun to see NKU featured on Sportscenter or in the NCAA tournament on national television every year, the possibility is not very good. For now we will have one of the most successful Division II programs and who knows what the future will bring.

Kyle Burch is the Sports Editor for The Northerner. E-mail Kyle at burchky@nku.edu