SF State athletics to remain under Division II competition

Almost two decades of Division II. 

Students at SF State have been questioning why the university’s sports teams don’t compete under Division I. 

The Gators have been a part of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II for 19 years.

With the men’s basketball team being ranked as high as 13 in the NABC Coaches Poll last season, and making it into the NCAA Division II West Regionals the previous season, students are beginning to ask questions about testing Division I schools.  

“I’ve been to almost every men’s basketball home game this season and seen division one teams play on tv,” said SF State biology major, Natalie Avila. “I truly believe our team can keep up and beat some of these division one schools.”

“We’ve always participated at the NCAA Division II level and members of the Northern Athletic/Far West Conference,” said Charles Guthrie, SF State director of athletics. “We joined our current league (CCAA) in 1998.”

A long and complicated five-year process needs to take place if SF State wants to join the NCAA Division I, according to the NCAA handbook. California State University, Bakersfield completed the reclassification process, which began in 2005 and was completed in 2011. 

To begin the process, the university itself would have to vote on whether or not to raise the athletic department classification to Division I standings.

“As of today, there (are) no plans to reclassify for NCAA division one,” Guthrie said. 

If the university did decide to declare a reclassification to Division I , the next step would be for the athletic program to sponsor seven sports for men and women or six for men and eight for women, according to the NCAA rules .

The SF State athletics department currently sponsors five men’s sports and six women’s sports. The department could add many other sports to become Division I eligible. Each season must also be represented by both male and female sports.

Moving divisions is not just about adding sports, but also having the proper facilities to be able to host fans and reach Division I standards, according to the NCAA Handbook. Division I schools must play all of the minimum number of games against Division I schools. 

For men’s and women’s basketball, they must play all but two games against Division I universities. That is why University of San Francisco, a Division I program, is able to play SF State once each season. Men’s basketball teams must play 30 percent of their games at home due to the large revenue brought in by the men’s basketball team. 

Schools in Division I also have a scholarship ceiling and floor which range between athletic departments and sports.

If the university has a football team, they can either be part of the Football Bowl Subdivision or Football Championship Subdivision. Bowl Subdivision is where the most money is made, paid, and distributed in the form of scholarships. They also require a minimum amount of attendance for each home game which is 15,000 attendees – Division II universities do not need to meet any attendance requirements.

“Obviously, cost depends on which sports you add,” Guthrie said. “Adding men and women Golf would be an estimated $150k annually. Adding football, we estimate, would cost $2 million per year. ”

Money will allow universities to have the proper facilities to hold large amounts of people as well as allowing for athletic departments to grant scholarships to athletes and cover each sport’s expenses.

“90 percent comes from the IRA mandatory student athletic fee,” Guthrie said. “Additional funding comes from fundraising, for example, annual fundraisers, golf tournaments, camps and clinics.” 

Until SF State has the budget to add more sports, the school will have to continue being part of the NCAA Division II.

“We’re a long way from having that conversation,” Guthrie said. “Our focus is to continue building a national power at the Division II level.”

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