McMurry Athletics Approved for Active NCAA III Membership Beginning in 2018-19!

  Gary Ellison
  Thursday, June 28, 2018 8:28 AM
  Archives 2017 - 2018

Abilene, TX

McMurry University has completed its four-year journey back to Division III. In a letter dated June 25, 2018 the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Membership Committee informed the University that it has voted to grant active Division III membership status to the War Hawks’ intercollegiate athletics program, effective September 1, 2018.

“Our mission of Developing Champions for Life is consistent with the Division III philosophy, so this is great news for McMurry University,” McM Director of Athletics Sam Ferguson said. “I’m thrilled for our scholar-athletes, coaches, and staff, as we are now eligible for NCAA championships for the first time in more than six years.”

“The NCAA Division III staff has been fantastic during our transition; they have answered countless calls and were invaluable resources throughout the reclassification process. We are truly thankful for Jay Jones, Kristin DiBiase, Jean Orr, and many others on the staff who offered tremendous service. They all played tremendous roles in getting us to this point.”

Beginning with the upcoming 2018-19 academic year, the McM’s 20-sport program will once again be eligible to participate in NCAA championships and all other full-member benefits. The declaration from the NCAA capped the long, and sometimes arduous, road back to the Division III fold for McMurry.

“The Division III Membership Committee was excited to approve McMurry as one of our four new Division III member institutions,” NCAA Associate Director of Division III Jay Jones said.  “It has been such a pleasure to work with Athletic Director Ferguson, President (Sandra) Harper and the entire McMurry team during this process.  The committee and NCAA staff have no doubt that McMurry will be a successful program and we are all thrilled to welcome the War Hawks to Division III.”

As a result, McMurry will now also be eligible for American Southwest Conference (ASC) post-season tournaments, as well. Previously, McM’s athletics teams were charter members of the ASC - and also an NCAA III-affiliated institution - from 1996-2012. After the spring of 2012, McM's athletics programs initiated the process to reclassify to NCAA Division II status. However, recognizing that the NCAA III profile was a better fit for the mission and philosophy of the University, a decision was made in January of 2014 to return to Division III and the ASC. 

“The ASC membership joins McMurry in celebrating its resumption of active NCAA Division III status,” ASC Commissioner Amy Carlton said. “We look forward to the War Hawks competing fully in ASC championships and the opportunity to represent the Conference on the Division III championships stage.”

The path back to full NCAA III membership was one that required an ample amount of work to accomplish. Meetings, seminars, site visits and a goodly amount of paperwork - most of which fell under the purview of Ferguson and his staff - were all a part of bringing this effort to fruition. In all, Ferguson’s team generated nearly 700 pages of annual report materials over the course of the four-year Division III reclassification process, detailing the War Hawks’ steps along the way.

“I want to thank everyone for their hard work and I am excited about the future of our athletics program in DIII and the continued success of our Scholar-Athletes in and outside of the classroom,” McMurry President Sandra S. Harper said. “I especially want to express my appreciation for our director of athletics, Sam Ferguson, for guiding us through this process.” 

Regaining active Division III status also means that McM’s scholar-athletes will again be able to receive consideration for any all-America teams and other various post-season accolades reserved for full NCAA III member institutions. McM athletes were unable to garner some of these awards – or participate in NCAA post-season play - during what amounted to a total of six seasons of transition time, after all was said and done. But a great number of McM’s athletes – along with coaches and staff - all remained with the Maroon & White and chose to support the mission of McMurry Athletics first-and-foremost, making completion of the membership process even more satisfying.

“I’m grateful for the patience of our scholar-athletes and staff during this transition,” Ferguson reflected. “This process is a time-consuming one that requires all hands on deck and attention from everyone from President Harper to faculty, staff, coaches, and students. Not surprisingly, the McMurry community stepped up in a major way to make today’s announcement possible. This is another example of the McMurry Momentum our campus is enjoying. We are excited to get our season underway and the opportunity to compete in NCAA Championships.”

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Gary Ellison