Since Dr. Ronald L. Ellis’ first year as California Baptist University’s president in 1994, his plan for the school has been centered on growth.
Several years ago, the senior class of 2013 sat anxiously in their seats at fall freshman orientation as Ellis gave a speech indicating the growth plans of the university over the next couple years, and how he desired for CBU to become “The Baylor of the West.”
Fast-forward three years and CBU is on its way to achieve one of its main growth plan objectives — becoming a National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II program.
This three-year process is coming to a close, as the school is wrapping up its final year transitioning from the NAIA to NCAA D-II, which is deemed the “Provisional Year.”
“The provisional year is the third and final year of candidacy for the NCAA Division II,” said Dr. Debbie Snell, the associate director of athletics for compliance.
She explained that the school is required to follow as many rules of any active NCAA D-II program as possible during the first two years of the process. During the provisional year, the rules are expected to be followed in their entirety and an auditing process is to follow.
“We think we’re on pace to finish it by the end of the year and hopefully be deemed acceptable enough to be a full fledged NCAA D-II member next summer,” said Micah McDaniel, assistant director of athletics and Lancers sports information director.
The biggest difference that athletes and non-athletes will witness is the extensiveness of the NCAA rules and bylaws that are expected of athletes, coaches and all athletic personnel. During the three-year process, CBU has been dedicated to getting everyone educated and familiarized with the rules and regulations of an NCAA D-II program.
“(We have) spent the majority of the time educating our staff members, our coaches, our athletes, other departments on campus, (and) the university as a whole, just educating them on the rules in general,” McDaniel said of NCAA regulations.
Both McDaniel and Snell added that it has been a campus-wide effort to move into NCAA D-II from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
“(This process is) going well with support ranging from Dr. Ellis, Kent Dacus, Dr. (Jonathan) Parker and to all of the coaches and staff who have made the process seamless and worked so hard through the candidacy years,” Snell said. Something new students can expect to see is the NCAA logo alongside CBU’s current Lancers logo.
“There’s just something about the NCAA name. When you have it hanging in your gym, at the pool and at the fields, there’s just some sort of automatic identification, people know that it’s reputable,” McDaniel said.
Until the completion of the provisional requirements, CBU does not have the ability to compete for NCAA championships.
Both Snell and McDaniel said that they couldn’t wait to be an active member of the NCAA and have CBU participate in these championships and honor Christ through excellence and athletics.