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It's official, NCCU now D-I
N.C. Central received confirmation from the NCAA on Thursday that the Durham school is now officially a Division I athletic program.
In 2005, the university announced its plans to transition from Division II to Division I, starting a five-year reclassification process. N.C. Central’s teams are now eligible to participate in Division I postseason championships this fall.
“Just to think of us being official, it opens up doors,” N.C. Central basketball coach LeVelle Moton said. “It puts us on an equal platform with our counterparts.”
In order to elevate the university’s athletic program to Division I standards, N.C. Central had to upgrade its facilities.
The improvements included the installation of a new artificial turf field at O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium, along with a new scoreboard.
Per NCAA requirements, the school also increased its minimum amount of scholarships in each sport. The Eagles football program now funds 60 out of a possible 63 Division I Football Championship Subdivision scholarships, totaling $1.4 million.
Headed by new football coach Henry Frazier III, N.C. Central will play its first full conference schedule this fall against eight Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference opponents.
Donal Ware, an analyst of historically black college athletics and host of the radio program “From The Press Box To Press Row,” said the official transition should be a boon for N.C. Central, athletically and academically.
“Any time you can move to the Division I level it means more exposure,” Ware said.
“From an exposure standpoint … it can help you academically. They can be part of the MEAC’s package on ESPN. With that 30-second spot about the university, as a whole that could lead to potential students coming to N.C. Central. They didn’t necessarily have that before.”
The Eagles joined the MEAC on Sept. 10, 2009 and were provisional members of that league during the 2010-11 season.
Moton said the confirmation immediately helps teams with recruiting and offers student-athletes something special to dream about in the post-season.
“Whoever touches this basketball has dreams and aspirations of one day playing in the March Madness tournament,” he said. “We just moved a step closer in making that dream a reality.”
BY EDWARD G. ROBINSON III, News Observer