RSU Athletic Director Ryan Erwin Talks NCAA Division II Membership

Friday, July 15th 2016, 8:09 pm
By: News On 6

It's a big day for Rogers State University in Claremore.

"Yesterday, we were notified by the NCAA that beginning with the 2016-17 year, RSU will begin a new era as fully active members of the NCAA Division II," said Hillcats Athletic Director Ryan Erwin.

It was a Hill to climb but Rogers State is now in the NCAA.

"It's a three-year process, that really, probably, could be a six-seven year process, with the amount of paper work and the amount of change you have going from NAIA to NCAA to meet compliance standards and all the procedure regulations," Erwin explained.

But the long days of filling paper work is worth it, mainly because of money. 

The Hillcats will get more distribution, grant and scholarship dollars to help with graduate students and fifth-year students.

The NCAA handles postseason travel as well. A far cry from the nearly $50,000 RSU spent for the Baseball team's trip to the NAIA World Series in Idaho in 2013. 

It also makes up for the two-year postseason ban after leaving NAIA, even if a team like men's basketball won a conference title in a transitional year.

"When you go into a young man's home and try to sell them on a dream without a national championship or postseason play that can be a little difficult,” stated RSU Head Men's Basketball Coach Justin Barkley. “It takes a special person to really see the vision we're trying to build here."

Now, the Hillcats are taking the NCAA brand into the future.

"We're building pros, but not just on the playing field or on the court, but in the classroom and everyday jobs,” Barkley explained.

Senior women’s basketball player Rachel Block is happy about the change.

"Excitement isn't even the word,” she stated. “It's something we all dream about being at the NCAA level."

The first athletic contest in Claremore will be on September 1 when RSU faces Southern Nazarene on the soccer pitch.

And this time, the Hillcats can compete for an NCAA National Championship at Rogers State University.