RSU moves into Year Two of NCAA Division II candidacy

Rogers State received good news as the NCAA announced Friday that the university was one of three to successfully complete the first year of candidacy.

The Hillcats advance to Year Two of the three-year transitional process in moving from the NAIA to the Division II level of the NCAA.ncaa_enhanced_m

RSU director of athletics Ryan Erwin said he was thankful to many people for the effort put into getting the program through the first year.

“Going into this process has been a lot of work and it’s taken a variety of different people to get it done,” Erwin said.  “We’re very pleased with the decision of the Membership Committee of the NCAA Division II and excited about the future.”

Rogers State is sponsored by the Heartland Conference in its move to D-II.  Conference commissioner Tony Stigliano echoed his sentiments.

“Ryan Erwin and the entire staff worked hard this year and that is reflected by the fact they have moved forward to go into the next year,” Stigliano said.  “We’re excited about it and happy for Rogers and I’m sure Rogers is very happy and excited also.”

Erwin came to Claremore last year in the midst of the athletic department’s evolution.  And he said he was brought in specifically to play the role he has played.

“I think that’s a big part of it.” Erwin said.

“President Rice and the administration, when they had an opening for the athletic director position, I felt like they were looking for someone who had some experience at the Division II level, which I did at my time at Dallas Baptist University, as well as someone who had gone through this process.

“I didn’t go through all of the process at Dallas Baptist, but helped finish up the transition to Division II. And I was also very involved in the baseball team’s transition to Division I.  I think that was something they were looking as a requirement and some experience.”

Although it hasn’t always been easy, Erwin said he has enjoyed the ride.

“I loved every minute of it.  It was a challenge coming on in October and getting everything completed by the June 1 deadline, but there were a lot of people on campus that helped make it happen outside of myself.”

After the conclusion of the baseball season at Rogers State, there haven’t been many games happening on the campus.  For the last month and a half the only game the athletic department has overseen is the waiting game.

“It’s always a nervous few days to wait until you get that phone that says you’ve advanced to Year Two.  We put a lot of work into it and were really geared up and then got it submitted.  We submitted on the last day of May and then we didn’t hear anything until yesterday.  You know, it’s an interesting six weeks waiting to hear that phone call.”

But the news Erwin and the Hillcats received this week has been worth the wait.

“It’s definitely a sense of relief, but we have two more years of this process and more requirements that we have to meet.  So once school starts in August and we’re officially moved into Year Two on Sept. 1, we’ll start the process to pass on into Year Three this coming academic year.”

There the transitional phase continues for the program, which means no NCAA postseason on conference postseason next year.  Even so, the Heartland Conference is happy RSU is continuing in the process.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to have both schools from Oklahoma in our conference,” Stigliano said, referring also to Oklahoma Christian.

“We have 11 full members now.  We’re very strong and I look forward to bigger and better things in the future.”

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