The NCAA officially approved Shorter University as a full NCAA Division II member this week bringing an end to the university’s three-year transition from the NAIA.
After competing in a probationary capacity the past two years as a candidacy institution and provisional member of the Gulf South Conference, Shorter is now poised to challenge for conference, regional and national championships at the NCAA Division II level beginning in August.
The NCAA notified Shorter President Dr. Donald Dowless of its decision Wednesday before officially releasing the identity of its newest members on Friday.
“This process has been a marvelous University effort, and Director of Athletics (Bill) Peterson and his team have worked diligently to achieve this great outcome,” Dowless said. “We look forward to our future in the NCAA as we continue to develop young men and women to fulfill their God-given potential.”
Now, after years of anticipation, Peterson and the Hawks’ coaching staff can shift their attention to continuing Shorter’s athletic prowess in the Division II realm.
“Our coaches, our faculty and our staff could not have been more positive or more supportive,” Peterson said. “Shorter is truly blessed with a number of remarkable people.”
The university submitted its third and final annual report on June 2. It was the final piece of the provisional year puzzle that included an intensive, two-day, on-campus compliance blueprint review by an NCAA vendor in the fall and a final meeting with the Division II membership committee and fellow provisional members at the NCAA Convention in San Diego in January.
The Gulf South Conference (GSC) is expected to follow the NCAA in the coming days and confirm Shorter as a full member of its league. The Hawks compete in all 14 GSC sponsored sports and are also associate members of the Peach Belt Conference in outdoor track and field.
During its two-year probationary period where Shorter was ineligible to compete in the NCAA postseason, the school captured eight National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) national championships in addition to the university’s first two NCAA conference championships – a Peach Belt Conference men’s outdoor track and field title and the Gulf South Conference regular season softball crown, both this past spring.
All told, Shorter enters its first year as an NCAA institution with 16 team national championships under its belt – and a hunger to add NCAA hardware to its mantelpiece.
“There is no question that the past decade has been a golden era in the history of Shorter Athletics,” Peterson said. “Starting in 2004 with the inception of football and finishing with this move to the NCAA in 2014, it has been a remarkable period.”
Shorter’s fall sports will have the honor of beginning the inaugural NCAA campaign in a little over a month. The football program will host Shorter’s first home contest as an NCAA member when the Hawks welcome Paine College on Sept. 4.
For Peterson and the Hawks, this latest new school year is bringing an extra element of unprecedented excitement.
“The move to the NCAA is truly a momentous occasion in the history of this institution,” Peterson said. “I am proud of all involved and look forward to a great future under the big blue ball. It’s a new day for all Hawks.”