Athletics timeline pushed back pending approval

President Bill Cale announced Aug. 21 that he will present a new plan for transitioning to Division I to the board of trustees at the Sept. 10 meeting.

Cale’s plan includes a new timeline, projecting that UNA will make the move to D-I in the summer/fall period of 2014,instead of the previous plan of 2013.

“I’ve never been opposed to the idea of our university participating in Division I sports; my concerns all along have been whether we can put the financial pieces together so that we wouldn’t stress the institution,” Cale said.

Cale said that by delaying the move one year, the school will be in a better financial position to pay for it.

“I’m going to present to them a plan of action that I think will work and be successful, and ask them to endorse my going ahead with that plan”

Director of Athletics Mark Linder said he supports Cale’s plan.

“There’s so many moving parts to this; I mean, you have the unknown as far as funding, the unknown as far as conference invite—there’s some things that you really don’t have a lot of control over,” Linder said.

The board, which voted in June 2011 to support the university in its pursuit of D-I athletics, will revisit the issue this meeting. A list of benchmarks was decided at the meeting; one benchmark that has not been met is receiving an invitation from a D-I conference.

All other benchmarks have been met, Linder said, except for raising $3 million for the NCAA application fee and other costs. He said the department has raised 93 percent of that goal.

Linder said the most likely conferences UNA can move to are the Ohio Valley Conference and the Southern Conference.

Linder said that for now, the athletics department is focusing on being the best Division II school they can, while getting all of their ducks in row for the future move.

Another part of the financial equation is the phased-in student fee, which will cap out at $8 per credit hour in the spring of 2013.

“Without the phased-in student fee the entire notion fails—it can’t be done without the student fee,” Cale said.

Though students graduating between now and 2014 won’t be around to experience UNA as a D-I school, Cale said the move will benefit them in that it will help the reputation of their alma mater. And, he pointed out, what college students subsidize during their time on campus are for future generations of students.

“All students throughout the course of American higher education have paid for benefits that accrue to those that follow, and we just hope while you were here you enjoyed some of the things that the people that were ahead of you also paid for,” Cale said.