Sul Ross applies for move to NCAA Division II

ALPINE, Texas (KOSA) – On Monday, January 30, the athletic department at Sul Ross State University officially applied to participate in NCAA Division II athletic programs.

SRSU is currently attending the Division III American Southwest Conference and has been invited to attend the Division II Lone Star Conference.

Athletic Director Amanda Workman said the student and athlete experience at SRSU was what prompted Exploration of Change, a transformational journey that began under the leadership of President Emeritus Pete P. Gallego.

“When we get accepted into Division II, we can start doing scholarship offers and I can’t think of a better investment in someone’s education,” Workman said. “We will attract more students who can continue to play sports after high school because Sul Ross State will have added value. It makes us more competitive in the field and we believe it will increase enrollments and increase retention efforts. Ultimately, our goal is for all physical education students to graduate from SRSU.”

In some cases, SRSU student-athletes travel up to 14 hours each way to compete and rarely travel less than six hours. Due to the distance, many schools, including non-conference competitors, do not come to Alpine to play games, resulting in coaches struggling to fill schedules each year and a significant impact on academics due to missed class time to have. Being on the move also means that athletes miss participating in other on-campus activities, which can make them feel disconnected from the university community.

SRSU will receive notification from the NCAA sometime this summer. If accepted, the university will enter a three-year interim period, which includes one additional academic year in Division III, and begin Division II competition in the Lone Star Conference in the fall of 2024. At the end of the third year, as long as all membership criteria are met, SRSU would become full members of Division II.

One of the terms is a $250,000 earmarked pool for athletic scholarships. Saving on travel expenses will help offset these costs, as will a minimal increase in the sports fee along with the expected higher enrollment. However, Workman said the majority of these costs are expected to be generated through fundraising efforts.

“Most of our students are first generation, which means the state of Sul Ross has an outsized impact on the future of their lives, their families and their communities,” said Dr. Carlos Hernandez, the current President. “We have to make an impact, and we have to be intentional. Bidding to be part of Division II is one way to do those things through athletics. By using scholarship funds judiciously, we can attract more student-athletes, create a more positive student experience for all, and increase enrollment across the board. Happy students graduate, and we want them to graduate from SRSU.”

Schools in the LSC, many of which are regional, include Angelo State University (San Angelo), Cameron University (Lawton, Oklahoma), Dallas Baptist University, Eastern New Mexico University (Portales), Lubbock Christian University, Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls), Oklahoma Christian University (Oklahoma City), St. Edward’s University (Austin), St. Mary’s University (San Antonio), Texas A&M International University (Laredo), Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas Woman’s University (Denton), University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, The University of Texas Permian Basin (Odessa), The University of Texas at Tyler, West Texas A&M University (Canyon) and Western New Mexico University (Silver City).

In addition, many of the LSC schools participate in division games, making extended travel outside of the championship season irrelevant.

In addition to Sul Ross State, ASC schools include Concordia (Austin), East Texas Baptist (Marshall), Hardin Simmons University and McMurry University (Abilene), Howard Payne University (Brownwood), LeTourneau University (Longview), and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (Belton), University of the Ozarks (Clarksville, Ark.), and UT Dallas.

SRSU was a member of the LSC from 1950 to 1976, when the university joined the Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association. The university left the TIAA for the ASC in 1996.

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