June 21, 2019 (Jackson, Miss.) - The NCAA Division III Membership Committee has approved Belhaven University for full, active NCAA membership beginning this fall with the 2019-20 academic year.
The membership provides the Blazers' 17 sports programs immediate eligibility for both American Southwest Conference (ASC) and NCAA postseason championships, full NCAA member voting privileges, and access to all NCAA opportunities, awards, and recognition.
Belhaven University President Dr. Roger Parrott noted, "NCAA Division III is the gold standard for well-rounded college athletics-with its commitment to putting first a high-quality student-athlete experience.I'm proud the stature and integrity of our programs have equipped us to be enthusiastically welcomed into this highly competitive division of college sports.I could not be prouder of our student-athletes, coaches, and athletics leadership."
In 2013, the Belhaven University Board of Trustees approved an NCAA membership process which began with an 2014-15 exploratory year, the final year of NAIA national affiliation for the Blazers.This was followed by the NCAA-mandated four-year provisional membership process, during which time NCAA regulations did not allow for NCAA postseason qualification and competition.
"From the start, our aim was to find a home where our student-athletes had the best opportunities to compete for championships and to mature as people created in the image of God", said Vice President & Director of Athletics Scott Little."So many people have worked tirelessly for nearly six years to achieve NCAA membership.I salute our student-athletes for their perseverance, especially those who earned their degrees without ever experiencing the opportunity of the ASC and NCAA postseason.I am also thankful for our coaches, administrators, faculty, staff and alumni - those who have served and supported our student-athletes with great skill and care.The support and wisdom of Dr. Parrott and our Board of Trustees have been invaluable as we have walked this road together."
In 2015, the American Southwest Conference graciously welcomed Belhaven University as a conference member.The Blazers' sports programs began scheduled competition as an ASC member although unable to participate in ASC team championships due to NCAA provisional membership rules regarding automatic qualifier (AQ) postseason bids.During these interim years Belhaven participated in numerous National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) championship events.
Beginning in 2017-18, the ASC invited Belhaven student-athletes in individual sports to compete in ASC Championships.Three student-athletes earned ASC Champion honors in outdoor track & field in 2018, followed by two more ASC Champions in 2019.
Beth Vansant, Associate Director of Athletics for Compliance and Administration stated, "It is an honor to be part of this exciting time for the Belhaven Blazers.NCAA Division III membership provides so many opportunities for our student-athletes in and out of the classroom.I look forward to supporting them in realizing their potential and competing at the highest levels that DIII provides."
NCAA Division III is the largest division within the NCAA, with nearly 450 institutions across the nation. This comprises approximately 40% of the total NCAA membership. NCAA student-athletes have access to a myriad of resources beyond athletics and the classroom, as well as a voice in discussions through Student-Athlete Advisory Committee activities on campus, regionally and nationally.For more information about NCAA Division III, click here.