New Orleans changes gears, chooses D-II
|The University of New Orleans was set to elevate
its club football program to the varsity level and would have been
Division III's 240th football program.
UNO athletics photo by Brian Epstein
The University of New Orleans announced Friday morning that it has completed an evaluation of its athletic department and has submitted a proposal to the LSU Board of Supervisors to reclassify from NCAA Division I to NCAA Division II.
University provost Joe King submitted the proposal late Tuesday as part of the school's agenda items for the regularly scheduled LSU Board of Supervisors meeting that will occur on March 4 in Baton Rouge.
UNO had originally sought for and received approval from the NCAA Division III Management Council to transition from Division I to Division III. However, neither conference in the area, the American Southwest Conference or Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, accepted an application for membership.
"One of the biggest hurdles we faced in our transition to NCAA Division III was finding a conference home," said athletic director Amy Champion. "It is critical as an athletic department to be eligible for awards, compete for championships and have a consistent schedule."
The Gulf South Conference has extended a formal invitation to the University to apply for membership in the league upon its acceptance into Division II.
The proposal concludes an extensive analysis and budget exercise that began in October.
The Birmingham, Ala.-based league has courted UNO during the last 14 months; providing supportive materials and resources to assist the University in completing its evaluation.
"The University of New Orleans is a perfect fit for the GSC and has interested us for quite some time," Gulf South commissioner Nate Salant said. "It is comparable to most of our current members in terms of its enrollment size, wide variety of undergraduate majors and advanced degrees, geographic location, facilities and resources.
"Given that the institution has committed to adding football, UNO is even more attractive now, and we look forward to sealing the deal."
Though football will not be one of the sports announced upon acceptance, UNO intends to add varsity intercollegiate football in the next five years. The school has never competed at the varsity level, though has been home to a successful club football program.
Feb. 1, 2011: UNO Provost Joe King submitted the Division II proposal to the LSU Board of Supervisors.
Feb. 3, 2011: NCAA and the Gulf South Conference visit campus
Mar. 4, 2011: UNO Provost Joe King and athletic department administration presents Division II plan to LSU Board of Supervisors
March-April 2011: If approval received from LSU Board of Supervisors, UNO is on the NCAA Division II Membership Committee agenda.
2011-12: The department fields teams with scholarship student-athletes per NCAA Division II procedures and spends the year getting in compliance with NCAA Division II standards.
2012-13: UNO begins competition in all sports as a full championship-eligible member of the Division II Gulf South Conference.