The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II Membership Committee announced today that Benedictine University has been granted access to the NCAA Division II membership process, thus paving the way for the Eagles to become the 16th member of the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) prior to the 2019-20 academic year.
Known as a regional leader in collegiate athletics with 81 conference championships to its credit, Benedictine will compete in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference (NACC), Midwest Lacrosse Conference (MLC), and the Midwest Women’s Lacrosse Conference (MWLC) for one more season (2018-19) before entering the GLVC.
“In any university’s development, there are landmark moments that help define an institution,” said Benedictine University President Michael S. Brophy, PhD, MFA. “This move is going to give our athletics program the opportunity to advance and grow as never before. It is a proud day for BenU!”
A multiyear endeavor, the NCAA Division II membership process prepares applying institutions for a successful transition. The provisional process for Benedictine is a minimum of three years that includes opportunities for education, assessment and growth, as well as a chance to fully integrate the Division II philosophy, strategic positioning platform and best practices to be a successful Division II institution.
After successful completion of the third and final provisional year of the transition (2020-21), Benedictine is expected to become an active member of NCAA Division II for 2021-2022.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Benedictine University,” said Athletics Director Mark McHorney. “A move to Division II and participation in the GLVC increases Benedictine's regional visibility and will appeal to athletes seeking to play at a higher competitive level by opening the door to new student recruitment markets in the Midwest,” continued McHorney.
Due to acceptance into the Division II membership process, Benedictine will not be eligible to compete in NCAA DIII Championships. The Eagles are eligible to win regular-season league titles and can also have student-athletes earn All-Conference honors. During this time, Benedictine will begin implementing Division II policies and procedures.
The application process for NCAA Division II membership began in 2017 when faculty and staff representatives from across Benedictine University initiated a feasibility study to examine the potential reclassification of the University’s athletic programs from NCAA Division III to Division II. This assessment provided a thorough study of the University’s ability to meet the requirements of the Division II membership.
“The committee’s comprehensive study was examined through a diligent process. The recommendation to pursue Division II membership was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees in December 2017,” said Dr. Brophy. “This advancement is one of several strategies to distinguish Benedictine University as a first choice, Catholic, liberal arts school in the Midwest,” he added.
With unanimous support of its Council of Presidents, the GLVC formally invited Benedictine to be admitted to the league in October 2017, which then prompted the Benedictine Board of Trustees to approve the University’s submission of an application to reclassify from NCAA Division III to Division II in December. On February 1, 2018, Benedictine submitted its application for NCAA Division II membership.
Benedictine will officially become a GLVC member upon receipt of initiation fees, entitling the institution to voting privileges beginning in 2018-2019, with competition starting in 2019-2020, during its second provisional year of the DII membership process.
The institution will be expected to comply with all NCAA Division II legislation and bylaws, including offering athletic aid to student-athletes. During this time, the Eagles will be eligible to compete in GLVC Championship events that are not tied to an NCAA Championship automatic qualifying bid, as they are ineligible for all NCAA Division II postseason competition.
“The GLVC Council of Presidents is pleased to welcome Benedictine University as our next member, following our unanimous endorsement of the recommendation from the league’s faculty athletic representatives last fall,” said Dr. Rob Manuel, University of Indianapolis President and Chair of the GLVC Council of Presidents.
“The Great Lakes Valley Conference welcomes Benedictine University to our family,” said GLVC Commissioner Jim Naumovich. “We are thrilled to have found a like-minded institution within our geographic footprint to become our 16th member.”
In Illinois, there are four Division II schools with just two schools that play football. There are 32 Division II institutions in states surrounding Illinois, including 22 that have football programs.
Benedictine currently sponsors 19 sports, 17 of which are sponsored by the GLVC, including all seven of the league’s core sports: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, and volleyball. The Eagles will also compete under the GLVC banner in men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s golf, men’s lacrosse, and men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field. Benedictine University does not sponsor four GLVC sports, including men’s and women’s swimming and diving and men’s and women’s tennis. The GLVC does not sponsor two additional Benedictine sports in men’s volleyball and women’s lacrosse, although the league is hopeful to begin sponsoring the latter in the near future.
Former Benedictine University student-athletes are sharing their support of the reclassification. Ken Carruthers, class of 1976, a football and baseball student-athlete, All-American, and Benedictine Hall of Fame inductee shared his enthusiasm for the University’s application for NCAA Division II classification.
“I extend my sincerest best wishes to the University in its decision to apply to NCAA’s Division II. I have every confidence in the University’s commitment and dedication to succeed in Division II. Onward and God’s blessings,” shared Carruthers.
Tamika Curtis, class of 2008, was a women’s basketball student-athlete and an Honorable Mention All-American, and inducted into the 2016 Benedictine Hall of Fame.
“As a former student-athlete and assistant coach at Benedictine, I have happily witnessed the growth of the athletic program,” said Tamika. “The University’s rise in enrollment and athletic facility improvements have attracted more student-athletes to BenU.”
Summing up the value of the NCAA Division II classification, Curtis said, “I believe that moving the athletic program to NCAA Division II will make a difference for students who are evaluating a variety of college options. The University’s efforts to enroll student-athletes, who want to compete at a higher level and excel academically, will find BenU to be an exceptional choice. As an Eagle, we have always taken pride in our ability to balance academics and athletics.”
Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls more than 5,000 students in 59 undergraduate and 23 graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the seventh consecutive year in 2017. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (hlcommission.org). For more information, contact (630) 829-6300, email@example.com or visit ben.edu.