Tarleton State University, fresh off a successful basketball season, is now turning its attention to the possibility of advancing into NCAA Division I athletic competition. Currently, Tarleton plays in Division II as part of the Lone Star Conference (LSC).
“Any consideration of stepping up to NCAA Division I athletic competition needs to be carefully considered and fully discussed throughout the university community,” said Tarleton President Dr. F. Dominic Dottavio, in an email to faculty and staff.
Two open forums for faculty and staff will take place tomorrow, March 31, from 8:30-10 a.m. and 3-4:30 p.m. in Math 125.
The decision to move divisions will have to take multiple points into consideration. The LSC’s stability in recent seasons raised enough concern to reignite the conversation about moving. However, according to Dottavio, this issue has been mostly resolved in the past few weeks.
“The stability of the Lone Star Conference (LSC) was a major reason for re-activating the discussion of moving to Division I,” said Dottavio. “In recent weeks the LSC has been stabilized by the addition of several new universities to the conference.”
Finances, however, may not be such a stable factor.
“Division I Athletics is more competitive and significantly more costly,” Dottavio said. “It’s not a move that we should make lightly.”
The move to DI could also impact the university’s presence as an athletically focused school, as well as placing it in the public eye more regularly.
“Our facilities, with the upgraded tennis courts, compare favorably with those of other Division I schools. Our plans to upgrade the football stadium and track facilities further enhance our viability,” Dottavio noted. “Division I would enhance the university’s profile, including potential national television exposure. Competing against better known schools would give us an enhanced opportunity for corporate sponsorships, and alumni and community involvement.”
Before a move can be made to Division I, Tarleton must receive an invitation to join a conference. At this time, the university has not received an official invitation to any DI conference.
An open forum for students will also be held, according to Chief of Staff Dr. David Weissenburger. The forum is tentatively scheduled for April 15 from 5:30-7 p.m. in Math 125. Student Government Association will be present, and students are encouraged to attend.