Mississippi College gains full NCAA Division II membership - WLBT.com - Jackson, MS

Mississippi College gains full NCAA Division II membership

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Mississippi College successfully completed its three-year transition and joins NCAA Division II as a full member, school leaders announced Thursday.

From President Lee Royce to Athletic Director Mike Jones and others in the MC family, the decision reached by NCAA officials on July 14 was greeted with excitement on the Clinton campus.

Five years of planning led to this positive step that "will benefit MC for years to come,'' as the Baptist-affiliated university returns to NCAA Division II and the Gulf South Conference,  Dr. Royce said today.

NCAA officials informed the MC athletic director of their decision in a phone call. Their recommendation now heads to the NCAA's Management Council July 18-19.

Following approval from the Management Council, a celebratory press conference will be held on MC's campus on Tuesday, August 2nd at 10:00 a.m. The press conference will be streamed live for those unable to attend.

"This is a great day for Mississippi College athletics and our university as a whole,'' Jones said after receiving word from NCAA officials. It means "we have completed the reclassification process and will be the newest members of NCAA Division II and the Gulf South Conference.''

As a result, Mississippi College athletic teams starting this fall can participate in post-season NCAA Division II competition. NCAA Division II status enables student-athletes on the Clinton campus to receive athletic scholarships and post-season conference and NCAA awards.

Mississippi College was among the founding members of the Birmingham-based Gulf South Conference in 1972 and remained in NCAA Division II for sports through 1996. MC's athletic department switched to NCAA Division III and the Texas-based American Southwest Conference starting in 1997 until seeking to re-emerge in NCAA Division II.

Royce offered his congratulations to the hard work by MC faculty, staff, students, alumni and others as MC begins its first season back in NCAA Division II starting in late August.

The MC leader singled out Jones and assistant athletic director Susan Musselwhite for their hard work to make today's announcement a reality.

Jones also applauded Dr. Royce, his staff and many others for working countless hours to achieve that goal. "There are too many to mention right now, but I assure you that their contributions will be recognized at the appropriate time and place.''

Added Jones, the former MC men's basketball coach,: "We want to thank everybody for their thoughtful prayers and God's guidance through this complex process.''

Coming years look bright for the 5,200-student Christian university, the second oldest Baptist college in America. "We are excited about the future of Mississippi College athletics,'' Jones stated. "It's officially time to be two! Go Choctaws!.''

Musselwhite echoed the sentiments of her boss. "We are so thankful we have met the expectation of Division II and have successfully completed this transition process,'' said the MC graduate and former women's softball coach. "I am so glad that MC is back home in the Gulf South Conference. I'm so proud to be a Choctaw.''

The growing and dynamic Gulf South Conference includes Delta State in Cleveland as well as MC rivals like North Alabama, West Alabama, West Florida, Valdosta State, West Georgia, Union University in Jackson, TN and Shorter University in Rome, Georgia, among others.

Gulf South Conference leaders and MC consultant Jill Willson were overjoyed with Thursday's news. "It's been a great pleasure to work with MC this entire process,'' she said. "I'm looking forward to seeing Mississippi College flourish at the Division II level.''

"Mississippi College diligently pursued Division II membership for the last four years and the NCAA clearly saw an ideal Division II member," said GSC Commissioner Matt Wilson. "It is a credit to the institution's leadership beginning with Dr. Lee Royce, Athletics Director Mike Jones, Assistant AD Susan Musselwhite as well as the coaches, staff and student-athletes who have paved the way. The Gulf South Conference is proud of its association with MC and look forward to a long partnership."

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