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SPORTS: NCAA accords Houston Baptist full Division I status

HOUSTON (BP) — Houston Baptist University, having completed its NCAA Division I probationary period, has been approved for full membership by the NCAA board of directors.

“The entire HBU family is looking forward to the opportunities the university will have as an NCAA Division I institution,” HBU President Robert B. Sloan Jr. said. “As we expand our athletics programs and venues, this level of competition will enhance our student recruitment and retention efforts and bring recognition on the athletic field.

“It will not only benefit our students and alumni but also have a very positive impact on the Houston community,” Sloan continued. “Division I athletics will help the university fulfill its mission as a Christian institution of higher education committed to excellence in all of its programs.”

Steve Moniaci, HBU’s director of athletics, said the NCAA’s Aug. 11 announcement marked a “tremendous day for HBU.”

“This has been a four-and-a-half year journey that could not have been accomplished without the dedication of our board of trustees, alumni, faculty, coaches, staff and our student athletes who have risen to meet the challenges put before them by this transition and now find themselves on equal footing with the best intercollegiate athletics has to offer,” Moniaci said.

HBU’s athletic programs are immediately eligible for NCAA postseason play and revenue sharing, and its student athletes will be recognized among the NCAA statistical leaders and will be eligible for NCAA honors.

HBU competed at the NCAA Division I level from 1973-89, then competed in the NAIA. The Huskies enjoyed much national success at the NAIA level but made the decision to re-apply for NCAA Division I membership in 2007. HBU’s application was accepted and the school was given provisional Division I status until it could satisfy all necessary requirements during the NCAA’s mandatory transition process over the last four years.

HBU offers such sports as men’s and women’s basketball and soccer as well as baseball, softball, volleyball, golf, cross country and track and field.

Other Baptist-affiliated colleges are also in various stages of a move to NCAA. Union University and Shorter College have been approved for NCAA Division II first-year candidacy status while California Baptist University has been approved for its second year of NCAA Division II candidacy status.

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