D-1 not Votruba’s only announcement in Spring Convocation

Northern Kentucky University University President James Votruba ducked the tuition question and breezed past an announcement that academic advising will be changing by disclosing that NKU plans to move forward with applying to the NCAA to be a Division-I school when he spoke at Spring Convocation Wednesday.

Votruba announced the university had done some budget “restructuring” based on recommendations by Huron Consulting Group that allow a 3 percent merit raise pool to be created for faculty, assuming tuition rates increase as much as they did last year. This would be the first raise for faculty in two years, except for one-time $750 holiday bonuses some faculty received last Christmas.

Huron also recommended that NKU create a centralized advising process to alleviate inconsistent advice some students receive about academic requirements. Votruba acknowledged this transition could lead to students having less time interacting with professors and getting one-on-one attention from their advisors, saying that is one of the top reasons students choose to attend NKU.

He said that he approves of a process that streamlines advising–as long as students still get individualized attention.

In an email Votruba sent to NKU faculty and staff, he announced that the Council on Post Secondary Education is scheduled to approve the cap on tuition increases on April 27. The council sets limits each year on how much Kentucky universities and colleges can raise tuition and fees.

Once they set their limits NKU administration determines how much the next year’s tuition increase will be. The council also has to approve the Student Government Association’s proposed fee for the Recreation Center.

The question of D-I did not get brought up until Votruba opened the floor to questions, and suggested someone ask him about D-1.

Brent Donaldson, editor of Northern magazine, NKU’s alumni publication, took the bait.

“Since you mentioned it, what’s going on with Division-I?” Donaldson asked.

That’s when Votruba announced that he will recommend to the Board of Regents to move forward with the D-I application in the fall.

In 2007, the NCAA placed a four-year moratorium on division reclassification because so many schools were trying to become D-I. At the time, Athletic Director Scott Eaton told The Northerner that other schools were spending the most money on their basketball programs and neglecting other sports. He stressed the importance of treating all sports equally.

He said several times that the move is not about athletics, but about “marketing and branding.”

“It’s about affiliating with a set of institutions we want to be affiliated with,” Votruba said.

Votruba said we’re already a D-I school, citing the student body size, academic standards and facilities, such as the Bank of Kentucky Center and soccer stadium, NKU already has.

Votruba compared NKU’s move to D-I with Xavier University in Cincinnati, stressing that NKU has no intention to create a football team, but will use another sport as its anchor if it moves to D-I.

NKU expects to apply to become part of either the Ohio Valley Conference or the Horizon League, both conferences that are part of D-I.

“I think its affordable for us today,” Votruba said. “We are less and less like a Division II school and more and more like a Division I school.”

Story by Cassie Stone