One down and two to go.

UT Tyler athletics got the go-ahead from the NCAA to move into year two of the Division II membership process, the school announced.

On Friday afternoon, UT Tyler President Dr. Michael Tidwell and Dr. Howard Patterson, Director of Athletics, received a call from the Division II Membership Committee congratulating the college on its success in year one of the transition from Division III to D-II.

“Today is good day,” Patterson said. “We are excited the NCAA D-II Membership Committee voted to allow UT Tyler to begin year two of the Provisional Membership process. A lot of work has gotten us to this point and we look forward to continuing to do those things that will make us a valued member of the NCAA Division II and the Lone Star Conference. A special thanks to President Tidwell and the members of the athletic department, especially James Bonnette, Assistant AD for Compliance. Also special thanks to those on campus who are helping the University move toward full D-II status, especially members of the Intercollegiate Athletic Committee and the Compliance Committee. We are look forward to a full NCAA Division II Schedule from here on out and getting to know our new Lone Star Conference family.”

The Patriots officially moved from the American Southwest Conference of Division III to the Lone Star Conference of Division II on July 1.

The Division II Membership Process is a three-year process in which an institution is required to show the Division II Membership Committee a commitment to the Division II model. UT Tyler hosted members of the committee on campus earlier in 2019 where faculty and staff explained and demonstrated the commitment to excellence in the classroom and the field or court of play. In addition, Bonnette educated student-athletes, staff, and many departments across campus on Division II rules and the scholarship process.

“This is incredible news for UT Tyler as we are working toward becoming full members of NCAA Division II,” Stefani Webb, Patriots head women’s soccer coach and Senior Woman Administrator, said. “We are so excited to be joining a powerhouse conference and representing the standard of excellence that we have here at UT Tyler at the Division II level. We are all looking forward to continuing to recruit student athletes that will represent us well not just in this transition but as we become full members.”

In year two, UT Tyler will continue to showcase that the school has dedicated the resources required to run a successful Division II program.

According to the NCAA, full athletic scholarships are more common in Division I, while most Division II athletes receive partial athletic scholarships. The schools and athletic department budgets are smaller in Division II than in Division I. While Division I schools often travel nationally to compete, regional rivalries dominate the schedules of Division II.

The NCAA added, just like for Division I schools, the NCAA sets standards for Division II schools in order to maintain competitive balance, opportunities for all athletes and gender equity. Division II schools have to sponsor at least five sports for men and five for women (or four for men and six for women), with two team sports for each gender, and each playing season represented by each gender. Each sport has contest and participant minimums.

Football and men’s and women’s basketball must play at least 50% of their games against Division II, FBS or FCS opponents. Unlike Division I, there are no attendance requirements for football or arena game requirements for basketball. There are maximum financial aid awards for each sport.

The 2019-20 school year will be the first where UT Tyler’s 17 athletic programs will compete in full NCAA Division II competition.

The Lone Star Conference officially expanded to 19 member institutions with the addition of Dallas Baptist University, Lubbock Christian University, Oklahoma Christian University (Oklahoma City), St. Edward’s University (Austin), St. Mary’s University (San Antonio), Texas A&M International University (Laredo), University of Arkansas-Fort Smith and UT Tyler.

With 19 members, the LSC is the biggest conference in NCAA Division II. The LSC, founded on April 25, 1931, started as a five-member conference of Texas-based schools. Now, there are 14 members in Texas, two in Oklahoma, two in New Mexico, and one in Arkansas.

Other members of the LSC include Angelo State University (San Angelo), Cameron University (Lawton, Oklahoma), Eastern New Mexico University (Portales), Midwestern State University (Wichita Falls), Tarleton State University (Stephenville), Texas A&M University-Commerce, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas Woman’s University (Denton), The University of Texas Permian Basin (Odessa), West Texas A&M University (Canyon) and Western New Mexico University (Silver City).

The LSC will conduct conference championships in 18 sports (nine men and nine women). Men’s championships include football, cross country, soccer, basketball, baseball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, golf and tennis. Women’s titles are determined in volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball, softball, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field, tennis and golf.


Sports Editor

I am a native Tylerite and I grew up reading the Tyler Morning Telegraph and The Tyler Courier-Times. My parents took both the morning and afternoon papers. I came to work here 35 years ago at the age of 23, right after college.

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