The NCAA announced Friday that Oklahoma Christian will advance to the final year of NCAA Division II candidacy.
OC athletic director Curtis Janz said the department has been striving hard to complete this next step in the journey and has benefited just by taking part in the task.
“I’m really proud of the work that all the coaches and the athletic staff has done to progress to this point in the membership process,” Janz said. “It’s really a strenuous process, but it’s really a good process. We’re really growing and getting better as an athletic department because of it.
“We still have one big hurdle to clear until we are full members, but we’re really happy with the progress we’ve made.”
Janz said he believes the NCAA process through the last year has gone smoothly and that the attitude of those working toward the goal is instrumental in that.
“I think our people have taken this process very seriously and we’ve been very honest about the magnitude of it. We think that joining the NCAA is one of the most important things the athletic department has ever done.
“It’s very important for the university. So I think that just taking it seriously and giving it the time and effort this process takes has really helped us with that. It’s really been an opportunity for us to grow, as a department, as a school and as individuals as we’ve done this.”
OC is a member of the Heartland Conference, the league that has sponsored the move to Division II. Conference commissioner Tony Stigliano said he is confident the program will complete its journey on schedule.
“Oklahoma Christian has done a great job in making the transition from the NAIA to the NCAA,” Stigliano said. “They have passed two tests out of two. This will be their last year coming up and I don’t see any problems with them being a full member in 2015-2016.”
Another Heartland conference member, Rogers State, successfully completed Year One in the transition.
During the transition, the Eagles has have not had the opportunity yet to compete in NCAA postseason play, nationally or in the Heartland Conference. Two years ago, OC joined the National Christian College Athletic Association to give the student-athletes the chance to compete for postseason championships.
Janz said the affiliation with the NCCAA will continue.
“We will be a full member of the NCCAA again. We’ve been a part of their postseason and we really align well with the mission of the NCCAA. So really for this next year it doesn’t affect that very much.”
And as news comes in of the OC athletic department’s success in Year Two, naturally there is excitement.
“There’s a good buzz around campus,” Janz said. “It’s summer and there aren’t that many people, but almost all of our athletic personnel are around and they’re the ones that are the most engaged in the process, so they’re the ones that probably have the highest excitement level for that. But our administration, (OC) President (John) deSteiguer has been in touch with me a couple of time today and he’s very excited that the process is continuing.
“And you know, the NCAA is one of the most recognizable brands in the world. And I believe that everything that goes with that brand is great for Oklahoma Christian. It’s competitive and it’s a level playing field. And there’s a concentration on keeping no one with a competitive advantage. And we all go by the same set of rules. And it’s really been a good thing.
“We have a good excitement level on campus, but I think it will be even more once all the students return.”
The decisions of Division II Membership Committee’s decisions will be reviewed by the Management Council as part of the regular process during its July 21-22 meeting. If no further action is taken at that time, the Provisional Year for OC will officially begin Sept. 1.