By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia
Emmanuel College’s Athletic Department is entering a new chapter in its history.
At a press conference last week, Emmanuel College President Michael Stewart announced the college’s athletic department is now approved as a provisional member of Division II of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
Emmanuel will become part of the Conference Carolinas, which is made up of 10 schools.
NCAA’s Division II consists of some 300 schools in 24 conferences nationwide.
Stewart told the crowd of students, teachers, and coaches the move signifies a commitment to Christian education through sports.
“At Emmanuel, we are privileged to provide an athletic philospophy that intentionally fosters faith and character development, academic excellence, and a competitive athletic experience,” Stewart said. “Our model closely reflects the NCAA D-II philosophy of “life in the balance,” which emphasizes a comprehensive program of learning and development in a personal setting.”
Stewart said the Division II approach provides growth opportunities through academic achievement and learning in high-level athletics competition.
Meanwhile, Emmanuel College Athletic Director Jose Larios said the NCAA Division II candidacy membership reflects the school’s commitment to recruit highly skilled student-athletes.
Larios went on to say the process of full conference membership, however, will take several years.
“This is a three-year process in which we hope to gain full membership by the fall of 2016,” Larios said. “We have a strategic plan in place to guide us throughout this process. The first obligation we have is an October orientation meeting at the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, IN, which will give us a better understanding of their immediate expectations.”
Dr. Allen Patterson is the Commissioner of Conference Carolinas.
Patterson said the conference’s goal of helping students achieve their best has not changed since it began in the 1930s.
“We believe that athletics is an educational endeavor; that it is a unique opportunity for our student athletes to put into place the types of things that you learn only on an athletic field or during an athletic event,” Patterson said. “And it has to be intentional. It cannot just happen, it must be intentional. It takes coaches who are teacher coaches.”
According to Stewart, the Emmanuel College application team has been working on getting the school into NCAA Division II for the past three years.
He said that the process included a 500-page application and visits from members of the NCAA board and the Conference Carolinas.