KSU set to complete transition into collegiate athletics’ top-tier‚ NCAA Division I

Women’s basketball program receives perfect score for academic progress of players

Georgia (May 5, 2009) — KSU set to complete transition into collegiate athletics’ top-tier‚ NCAA Division I

Aixa Pascual

Abstract

KSU set to complete transition into collegiate athletics’ top−tier‚ NCAA Division I
Women’s basketball program receives perfect score for academic progress of players

KENNESAW‚ Ga. (May 5‚ 2009) — Starting in fall 2009‚ Kennesaw State University will be a full−fledged participant in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)‚ as the institution culminates its transition into the most competitive level of collegiate sports.

As a result‚ this fall‚ all 16 of Kennesaw State’s varsity sports teams will compete in NCAA Division I tournaments. During the university’s transition to Division I‚ only the men’s golf and women’s soccer teams competed in tournaments in this category.

Dave L. Waples‚ director of athletics for Kennesaw State for more than two decades‚ recognized the teamwork that helped the program attain Division I status. “The four−year process has been a learning experience for everyone in the athletics program‚” he stated. “We are proud to say it was a university−wide collaboration that achieved this milestone.”

KSU’s varsity sports programs have been transformed since the university started its move from Division II during the 2005−2006 academic year. Over the past four years‚ as required by the NCAA‚ Kennesaw State increased the number of scholarships awarded to student−athletes‚ upgraded its sports facilities‚ enhanced academic advising for student−athletes‚ and underwent a multi−year accreditation process to assure compliance with Division I academic requirements and other regulations. As it moved up the ranks and upgraded its facilities‚ KSU also has attracted higher caliber student−athletes.

“The infrastructure is now in place to ensure that we have all the resources that student−athletes need to be successful on the playing field and in the classroom‚” said Darryl Pope‚ compliance director for intercollegiate athletics at KSU. “We’ve already shown that we can compete with the best Division I teams.”

Since 2005−2006‚ KSU teams have won six Atlantic Sun Conference tournaments in five sports‚ including men’s indoor and outdoor track‚ women’s soccer‚ softball and cross−country‚ said Pope‚ whose position as compliance director was created as one of the requirements of the transition.

As part of its Division I requirements‚ KSU’s 16 male and female sports teams undergo a yearly review of the academic progress of the students on their rosters. One of the benchmarks they have to meet is referred to as the Academic Progress Rate or APR‚ which measures retention and academic eligibility for athletic participation. Pope reported that this year‚ 15 of the university’s 16 sports teams met the NCAA APR requirements‚ with women’s basketball earning a perfect 1‚000 in the scoring process.

Division I sports require not only an increased level of athletic competition‚ but also higher academic requirements. This pressure to compete and be successful does‚ however‚ have some consequences. Some student−athletes who competed on KSU teams prior to the move to Division I chose to transfer down to lower divisions. This was more pronounced in KSU’s popular men’s basketball program‚ and was the main reason that program did not meet the NCAA’s APR minimums. During the first two years of KSU’s competition in Division I‚ nine students on the basketball team transferred to Division−II level schools. KSU coaches assisted them‚ as needed‚ in transitioning to other programs.

As a result of these departures‚ the retention figures for the basketball program –– critical in the calculation of APR rates –– were negatively impacted. Therefore‚ in accordance with NCAA regulations‚ the university will lose two men’s basketball scholarships next year‚ Pope said‚ primarily due to the lost retention points. “It is very difficult to retain all of your student−athletes as you make the transition from Division II to Division I‚” he stated. “However‚ it was very important for us to ensure that these young men remained in school and continued to pursue their dreams of playing college−level basketball.”

Now‚ at this final leg‚ KSU is putting the finishing touches on its athletics strategic plan
–– the final requirement for full Division I membership. Included in the plan are measures passed by KSU’s Intercollegiate Athletic Board (IAB)‚ which reports to the president of the university‚ to improve retention and graduation rates in all sports. To demonstrate their appreciation for adherence to the APR program‚ the newly formed IAB awarded its first award for academic progress to the women’s basketball team for their perfect score.

Some 235 KSU student−athletes now participate in KSU’s NCAA sports program. That is 60 more than in 2005−06‚ when the transition to NCAA Division I began. Not only has the number of students participating in the program increased‚ so has the number of academic award winners. In each of the past four years‚ more than half of KSU’s student−athletes received all academic honors from the Atlantic Sun Conference. This year‚ nine of 16 teams achieved a GPA of 3.0 or better –– exceeding the Division I requirements.

The number of KSU student−athletes grew in part due to two new sports added to the university’s intercollegiate athletics roster during the transition to Division I: women’s volleyball and men’s tennis. Growth also has come in the way of new infrastructure. Off and on−field facilities have been revamped as part of the transition. New suites for basketball coaches‚ renovated locker rooms‚ softball lounge rooms with computers and big−screen TVs are some of the amenities attracting top athletes to KSU. In addition‚ there is a 6‚000−square−foot student−athlete advising center and an all−sports indoor practice facility that opened this year.

Plans also are under way to convert 88 acres of land recently purchased by the university into intramural‚ club and competitive sports fields and facilities‚ further enhancing KSU’s athletics resources. The new land will have as many as nine competition fields‚ jogging trails‚ sand volleyball courts‚ and‚ possibly‚ a track‚ tennis courts and a multi−use stadium.

Kennesaw State University is the third−largest university in Georgia‚ offering more than 65 graduate and undergraduate degrees‚ including new doctorates in education‚ business and nursing. A member of the 35−unit University System of Georgia‚ Kennesaw State is a comprehensive‚ residential institution with a growing student population of more than 21‚500 from 142 countries.



A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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