ST. GEORGE Dexter Irvin, Dixie State College's director of athletics, has announced that the National Collegiate Athletic Association has waived the final two years of Dixie's four-year provisional membership.
The decision means that beginning this season, Dixie State's teams will be eligible for postseason play at the Division II level, while Dixie's student-athletes can compete for conference championships and national titles in their sports.
"This announcement signifies the changing of the guard from a historical perspective to a new management system that emphasizes the quality of education and athletic experience for our student-athletes," Irvin said.
"Additionally, community service and student welfare, which are two core values of NCAA Division II membership, will bring us full circle in our ability to provide a quality experience for the students of Dixie State College."
In 2000, Dixie State changed its mission statement and began offering high demand baccalaureate degrees. This began the evolution of the institution from a two-year to a four-year college. The transition from junior college athletic competition to four-year NCAA Division II competition began as an exploratory member in 2005-2006. At the conclusion of the 2005-06 season, the provisional period began, including the program's acceptance into the Pacific West Conference on July 6, 2006.
Over the past two years, DSC's athletic administration has produced two reports as part of the program's progression toward full NCAA membership. The first was a 700-page Institution Self-Study Guide (ISSG), which was submitted to the NCAA in early 2007. The second report, a 600-page annual report delivered earlier this year, documented DSCU athletic's financial aid, compliance, academic, budgetary, and student welfare policies and procedures.
It was the hard work and diligence of DSCU's athletic administration, led by associate A.D. and senior woman administrator (SWA) Mo Eckroth, in the reports that impressed the NCAA into granting Dixie State full competition status at the Division II level.
"Our administrative team has played a pivotal role in the development of policies and procedures that has allowed us to be considered for full membership," Irvin stated. "The significance of everything we have in place cannot be overstated."
"Mo (Eckroth) has been a beacon of integrity and her hard work and dedication through this process has helped us make significant academic and procedural changes in our athletic department and institution," Irvin went on to say.
Currently, Dixie State College sponsors 12 intercollegiate athletic programs, including football, men's and women's basketball, women's volleyball, men's and women's soccer, baseball, softball, men's and women's cross country, women's tennis and men's golf. Dixie State is a member of the PacWest in all sports except football, which is a member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
In addition to DSCU's eligibility announcement, fellow PacWest member Notre Dame de Namur was also granted full NCAA Division II competition status, while the PacWest Conference achieved active conference status.
Irvin noted that the PacWest receiving active conference status was significant because of the conference's role in obtaining additional grant money and funding from the NCAA, along with league assistance in management of its member schools.
"We are very appreciative of our affiliations with the PacWest and GNAC conferences," Irvin said. "We are grateful for the possibilities for our student-athletes to compete for conference championships and national championship playoff berths, both of which would not be possible without these affiliations."
The current Pacific West Conference consists of nine institutions Brigham Young University Hawaii; Chaminade University of Honolulu; Grand Canyon University in Phoenix; the University of Hawaii at Hilo; Hawaii Pacific University; Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif., and Dixie State College of Utah.
Additionally, Dominican University in San Rafael, and the San Francisco Academy of Arts have recently been added to the league, though neither school will be eligible for postseason play this year.
Dixie State College of Utah athletics enjoys a storied history that spans nearly a full century since the institution's inception in 1911, including decades of championship success at the junior college level. DSCU won NJCAA national championships in Men's Basketball (1985, 2002), Women's Soccer (2000, 2003) and Baseball (2004). All but the 1985 men's basketball championship came during Irvin's tenure. Irvin noted that the heritage and accomplishments of those student-athletes and coaches that came before helped set the stage for opportunities afforded his collective programs, both in the present and the future.
"Our history in athletics is rich and has played a significant role in our community and our institution," Irvin said. "The junior college national championships and conference titles will forever impact our memories, but we are very excited to about this new quest that lies ahead of us."