Seven schools move toward D-III

Division II Kentucky Wesleyan went to the NCAA Tournament this season for the 37th time in men's basketball.
Kentucky Wesleyan athletics photo

Seven Division III schools were approved by the Membership Council to conduct an exploratory year next season, putting them one step short of being one step short of being four years away from Division III active membership.

The Management Council must approve the schools at a meeting at the end of July. Then they may choose or decline to enter the provisional membership period. 

The seven schools on the list are Georgetown (Ky.), Houghton, Kentucky Wesleyan, Sarah Lawrence, Southern Virginia, SUNY-Canton and Valley Forge Christian. 

However, exploratory schools don't always make the transition into provisional membership status. The 2008-09 exploratory list included seven schools, only three of which reached provisional status: Berry, Covenant and Penn State-Abington. Last year, the University of New Orleans didn't even get this far in the process before changing its mind.

The exploratory year is required, but the cost of applying is minimal, making it easy for schools to do so even if they are not fully committed to the Division III cause.

Georgetown, coming from the NAIA, and Kentucky Wesleyan, coming from Division II, would be considered least likely to actually join from this list, while other schools may fall short of Division III's membership requirements in terms of sports sponsorship. Georgetown's alumni have mobilized to keep the school in the NAIA.

The committee also approved four schools for active Division III membership in the fall, making them eligible for NCAA championships: Birmingham-Southern, Franciscan, Geneva and St. Joseph's (Bklyn.). This action also requires the Management Council's approval.