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Saturday, July 17, 2010

The significance of the NCAA

We learned recently that UIS will become a full active member of NCAA Division II on August 1. This is a huge step up for us -- a major addition for us and for the local community, if not all of Illinois, which didn't have a public university in Division II before. Don't get me wrong. We had a lot to be proud of before with our student-athletes; they represented us well, and our soccer teams won three NAIA national championships. They came to UIS to get a fine education, and they did well in the classroom, too. That's awesome. But coaches and players readily say that being in the NCAA will make a major difference when it comes to recruiting student-athletes and getting people to attend the games. We'll all slowly learn the significance of this in the next few years. I want to give a special salute to Rodger Jehlicka, director of Athletics, who oversaw a rigorous three-year process for us to get in, and to Ali Fitzgerald, our first compliance officer, who did an unbelievable amount of work to revamp our processes to get us into NCAA compliance. Ali resigned from this summer for Barry University in Miami, and we all wish her well.

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