As the sports seasons begin to come to an end, the California Baptist University athletics program is readying itself for the jump to the National Collegiate Athletic Association.
The NCAA is one of the most recognized brands in all of sports, just like Major League Baseball and the National Football League.
But in order to become as popular as the division, it is necessary that strict structure and rules be followed by every team and athlete on every campus including CBU.
Coming from the smaller and lesser-known National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, CBU’s programs have had to work hard to ensure they remained compliant for both divisions this season.
That job falls on the shoulders of CBU Assistant Director of Athletics for Compliance Debbie Snell.
In both the NAIA and NCAA each sport has its own set of individual compliance rules but a majority of the rules that athletes and coaches must follow are generic and apply to all sports.
“In most instances NCAA rules are more stringent than NAIA rules,” Snell said. “The rules are created to provide a level playing fi eld for all institutions.”
The first difference in requirements in the two divisions is where the players apply for eligibility and acceptance to be a collegiate athlete.
This is called the eligibility center. Athletes fill out a quick application with academic, insurance, financial information and more.
Once this application is fi lled out it is turned in to the NCAA and the athlete can be declared eligible to be recruited and play at the NCAA level.
“All of our incoming freshman athletes will be required to clear the NCAA eligibility center,” Snell said. “Current athletes are not required to clear the NCAA eligibility center. However, they are required to meet all NCAA eligibility requirements.”
Along with the eligibility center the NCAA also places stricter limits upon times when their teams are allowed to begin practicing, recruiting and playing.
These rules are in place for the much larger Division One teams who will stop at no ends to improve their team and try to win championships.
There is also a different price that must be paid to be a member of the division.
One rule that remains consistent throughout all collegiate sports is the fact that collegiate athletes must be considered amateurs at their sport and can receive no payment or bonus for their play.
This rule is a hot issue at the Division One level at the moment, as there have been several big name football and basketball programs, which have received sanctions from the NCAA for violating this rule.
That should not be an issue for CBU as they take a group of already very impressive athletics teams to the NCAA Division Two.
This is a stepping-stone and a major achievement for CBU athletics and it is a great way to improve the visibility of the campus in the world of collegiate athletics.
“The move to the NCAA is very exciting for the CBU community,” Snell said, “The Pacific West Conference rivalries that develop will result in a positive and enthusiastic campus environment.”
The Lancers will begin NCAA play in the fall of 2011.
For more information regarding eligibility issues visit www.ncaa.org.