Bruins teams make progress toward NCAA DIII membership

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Bruins teams make progress toward NCAA DIII membership

Winners for the NCCAA Cross Country Regional Meet at BJU, October 27, 2018 (Hal Cook)

Bob Jones University’s transition to becoming dual-affiliated with both the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division Three (NCAA DIII) and National Christian College Athletic Association Division Two (NCCAA DII) will change a few things for the Bruins athletic teams.

As the Bruins athletic department prepares to move into the NCAA DIII, changes and expectations are becoming clearer especially to the coaches.

Overall, the transition from NCCAA DII to NCAA DIII will benefit BJU athletics, according to athletic director Dr. Neal Ring.

Ring believes the NCAA DIII brand will raise BJU athletics and the University as a whole to a higher level, aligning it with other academically strong DIII institutions; and it will draw more attention from potential student-athletes.

But with the brand comes changes and new rules. One of the main changes brought by the transition is post-season play. Post-season play includes regional and national tournaments.

With the transition, the Bruins teams will have the opportunity to qualify for either the NCAA DIII or NCCAA DII regional tournaments.

Teams will first qualify for NCAA DIII, but even if they do not win enough regular season games to qualify for the DIII regional tournament, they can still play in the NCCAA DII tournaments. However, if a team plays but loses in the NCAA DIII regional tournament, they are prohibited from participating in the NCCAA DII tournament as well.

The transition places Bruins athletics into a stronger league, changing the level of competition to get into the regional and national tournaments.

However, many BJU teams have been preparing for the transition by scheduling games with DIII universities in past seasons.

According to Dr. Chris Carmichael, head coach of the women’s soccer team, the competition is going to increase even though the transition is from DII to DIII. “Sometimes people think DIII means not as good as DII or DI,” Carmichael said. “That’s not the case.”

Some DIII players could have been DI players but maybe chose a DIII university because of an academic program.

Because the competition is changing, travel time will change as well. BJU will be the only DIII school in South Carolina. This means travel time will increase from two and a half hours to roughly three and a half hours one way.

The amount of time a team trains will also change. Preseasons will be shorter. According to LeViere, the basketball team’s preseason will be roughly two weeks shorter than its normal eight weeks due to NCAA DIII regulation.

The season will also be around five games shorter than this year’s 30 games. The off seasons change as well because of NCAA rules. According to Carmichael, the women’s soccer team will be practicing five weeks in spring instead of the eight they have in the past.

Another change will appear in the recruitment process. Currently, coaches can recruit whoever they want however they want and no matter the age. Once BJU transitions fully to NCAA DIII, that will change.

Coaches will be allowed to recruit only high school juniors and above. The way coaches contact potential recruits will become more regulated. Only so much contact can be made between coaches and recruits.

However, the way the teams play and the type of athletes that coaches recruit will not change. Coaches will still look for athletes who fit with BJU.

“How we train, how we play, our style of play, all those things, I don’t think are going to change a lot,” Carmichael said.

BJU’s athletic culture will stay consistent despite the changes brought about by affiliation with NCAA DIII.

Jonny Gamet, sports information director, said that the mission and core values of the department will not change. He said, “The DIII move just allows us to further expand our platform for ministry while elevating what we currently do in our athletics program.”