FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 26, 2006
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—The Birmingham-Southern College Board of Trustees voted today to seek permission from the NCAA to reclassify its intercollegiate athletics program from Division I to non-scholarship Division III beginning with the 2007-08 academic year.
The board's vote comes after the first internal review and assessment of the athletics program since the college applied for membership in NCAA Division I in 1999.
Chairman of the Board James T. Stephens said that Birmingham-Southern would seek reclassification from the NCAA prior to June 1. The college would continue to compete at the Division I level in the 2006-07 academic year.
Stephens cited financial and philosophical considerations for the reclassification.
“The board has a legal responsibility to examine all of the college's programs to determine mission fit and financial impact on the institution,” said Stephens. “Obviously one of the things you consider in such a study after seven years is if Division I is indeed the right fit for an institution of our size, of our academic mission and quality, and of our financial resources.
“The financial performance of our intercollegiate athletics program is substantially below the expectations set when the board approved the move to NCAA Division I.”
Stephens said the board also considered whether Division I participation was compatible with the college's mission and profile. He said the board looked at institutions within the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference during the review. Ten of the 11 institutions in the SCAC house Phi Beta Kappa chapters, as does BSC, and most are ranked among the top 50 liberal arts institutions in the nation in such rankings as U.S. News & World Report. BSC's enrollment also is similar to most of the SCAC institutions.
Stephens said that Birmingham-Southern would seek membership in the SCAC, which includes such schools as Sewanee, Rhodes College, Centre College, DePauw University, Trinity University, and Millsaps College.
BSC President Dr. David Pollick said that all current Birmingham-Southern student-athletes on athletic scholarship will remain on athletic scholarship until they complete their eligibility and that incoming freshman student-athletes will remain on athletic scholarship through their junior year. In their last year, the college's Financial Aid Office will work with them to determine their qualifications for need-based and merit financial aid.
As a member of NCAA Division I, Birmingham-Southern has won seven Big South Conference titles and competed in three NCAA Tournaments.
Prior to seeking NCAA Division I status in 1999, Birmingham-Southern had spent the previous 46 years as a member of the NAIA, including two national championships in basketball and one in baseball.
“Our board is committed to achieving the same level of excellence at the national level of Division III,” said Pollick.