VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (EHOURL)- Virginia Wesleyan and Christopher Newport are both area athletic programs that reside in NCAA Division III. They might have some company soon.
Regent University has announced that it will pursue NCAA Division III status. Royals’ Director of Athletics Michael Allen spoke with News 3 on Tuesday morning and said this move checks a lot of boxes for the program and the institution.
“Just to grow our university, our branding, our marketability, obviously the NCAA brand really resonates with people,” Allen said. “We really felt like from a mission fit, putting academics first and athletics second, that the NCAA Division III was the correct way to go.”
Getting to that point will require a four year onboarding process for Regent. If the school’s exploratory application is approved in January, the Royals’ would begin an exploration phase in September of 2024, which would last throughout that academic year. That would be followed by a three year provisional membership status. Allen noted that NCAA membership could lead to some exciting growth for the university.
“That ties along with adding sports, getting on-campus facilities and really just doing things the right way,” Allen said of what could be coming down the road, especially when the NCAA expects them to be more hands-on during the three year provisional phase. “The standard is the standard. It’s nothing more, but it’s nothing less either and you’ve got to reach those standards.”
Regent is also in discussions with the city of Virginia Beach about the possibility of strategic partnerships for use of some of their established sports facilities.
The athletic director said the program and school have done their due diligence in terms of exploring what is the right step for the university. The Royals explored remaining in their current conference, the National Christian College Athletic Association, which Allen credits with being a great home for them. They also took a look at the NAIA, but that organization does not have a very big presence in the area.
The Royals are also utilizing the resources around them. Allen credited Christopher Newport Athletic Director Kyle McMullin and his staff with being a helpful support system during the process, adding that he looks forward to collaborating with Virginia Wesleyan as well.
Next academic year has the potential to be very exciting for the program, but it will also be a year full of learning, provided that the NCAA exploratory application is approved. It will be a chance for Regent to get to know the NCAA and vice versa.
“As we are exploring this next school year, it will become pretty evident,” Allen noted. “Is this a road we’re definitely going down or is this a road that maybe we’re not quite ready for yet? At the end of the day, we’re full steam ahead. We really feel like this is where God’s leading us.”
Regent began competing in collegiate athletics in 2016. The Royals currently have nine varsity sports: men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s track and field and women’s volleyball.