Season Kicks Off at NCAA Celebration
By Katie Chappell
Fans, student-athletes and the campus community celebrated the official acceptance into NCAA Division II last Thursday at the Sports Center.
The public celebration, held at the start of the fall semester during CSUSM’s Weeks of Welcome, followed the official announcement that came from the NCAA earlier this summer, achieving what was a 10-year goal for the University.
Hundreds of Cougar fans joined Athletics for the festivities, with food, music and giveaways, as well as an official program inside the Sports Center. Performances from the spirit squads – CSUSM Dance and Cheer teams – entertained the crowd. The event concluded with a dramatic reveal of the new NCAA and CCAA conference logos, now proudly displayed on The Sports Center court.
“We have been living the NCAA DII platform for many years now,” Athletics Director Jennifer Milo said. “For years, our student-athletes have been successful in the classroom, on the playing field and in the community and our coaches have been leaders in their fields. We have built a strong foundation for success and today we finally receive the recognition of the NCAA and the CCAA Conference.”
Completing the transition means CSUSM teams are eligible for Division II postseason play beginning with the 2017-18 academic year. Schools aren’t eligible for the postseason during the transition process. For the 2016-17 academic year, 10 of CSUSM’s 13 teams would have made the postseason had the University been eligible.
The move to Division II also allowed CSUSM to join the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA), which has been the nation’s most successful Division II conference since its establishment in December 1938. Twelve of the CCAA’s 13 members are in the California State University system; the only non-CSU school is UC San Diego.
“The move to the NCAA is providing the best possible experience for our student-athletes, while securing the long-term future of CSUSM athletics and aligning our university with the most recognized brand in college sports,” President Haynes said at the ceremony. “Thank you to all for helping us reach this point and for helping the University create history once again.”
Following the celebration, fans and student-athletes made their way down to the CSUSM soccer field, nicknamed The Cage, where men’s and women’s soccer both took home their first, official NCAA wins against fellow NCAA DII newcomer, Concordia University Irvine.