LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has granted Berea College (Ky.) provisional membership in Division III, beginning September 1. This move will allow the college to better align its athletics program to compete with other institutions that share a similar philosophy of intercollegiate athletics. The NCAA Division III philosophy is founded on the student-athlete’s overall educational experience. Institutions within the division are not permitted to award financial aid on the basis of a student’s athletic ability.
Berea College is moving from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) after being a member of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC) since its founding in 1926.
“Because we value the tradition of our participation in the KIAC for more than 80 years, we very carefully and thoughtfully investigated this opportunity,” says Berea College President Lyle Roelofs. “Our conclusion is that this move is the logical step for Berea College because our approach to intercollegiate athletics is consistent with NCAA Division III expectations that academics are the primary focus for student athletes. Moreover, all of our academic benchmark institutions are already NCAA members.”
According to the NCAA, Division III participation reduces the tension between athletics and academics, supporting the academic progress of student-athletes through shorter practice and playing seasons. Participants are integrated on campus and treated like all other members of the student body, keeping them focused on being a student first. It is also expected that travel distances and times will be shortened, thus reducing time away from academic studies.
There are more than 170,000 student-athletes at 444 institutions in Division III, which is the largest of the three NCAA divisions. Berea College joins Centre College, Spalding University, Thomas More College and Transylvania University as Kentucky’s NCAA Division III members, all being former members of the KIAC. Berea is not yet affiliated with a Division III conference but is exploring several options for joining a conference after the first year of provisional membership.