The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) announced Friday that Emory & Henry College has officially been accepted as a provisional member of Division II, ending a 48-year run as a charter member of Division III.
Emory & Henry will join the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) for the 2022-23 academic year after accepting a membership invitation to join the league last November. The college will participate in 19 of the SAC’s championship sports, including the conference’s combined men’s wrestling championship with Conference Carolinas.
“This is a monumental moment in our institution’s immense history as we continue to position Emory & Henry as the flagship higher education institution of Middle Appalachia for scholars and athletes,” said Dr. John W. Wells, Emory & Henry College President. “Reclassification has been a high priority within our strategic plan as we prepare for the future of higher education.”
The college’s acceptance became official Friday afternoon in a news release from the NCAA national office. Emory & Henry thus becomes just the fourth Division II member in Virginia.
“Today’s announcement is a culmination of 18 months of work across many departments throughout campus,” said Athletics Director Anne Crutchfield. “From the beginning, it has been clear that Emory & Henry aligns well with the values, goals, and mission of Division II and the SAC. While a transition will take time, I anticipate that we will quickly become a highly competitive member of the SAC.”
Emory & Henry will begin the first of three provisional years in August. If all benchmarks are met, the college would be eligible for full membership in August of 2024. The impact of the move to Division II and other strategic initiatives have helped produce record enrollment for the Fall 2021 semester.
The addition of Emory & Henry will increase the number of SAC members to 14. The SAC currently consists of teams from South Carolina (Anderson, Coker, Newberry, Limestone), North Carolina (Catawba, Lenoir-Rhyne, Mars Hill, Queens University of Charlotte, Wingate), Tennessee (Carson-Newman, Lincoln Memorial, Tusculum), and Virginia (The University of Virginia’s College at Wise).
“This is great news for both Emory & Henry and the SAC,” said SAC Commissioner Patrick Britz. “I know President Wells, Anne Crutchfield, and numerous others on campus have worked tirelessly to get to this point, and we are confident the transition to Division II will be a smooth one. The SAC looks forward to the Wasps joining the league in 2022-23.”
The South Athletic Conference currently offers football, baseball, softball, field hockey, women’s volleyball, men’s wrestling, men’s and women’s basketball, lacrosse, soccer, golf, tennis, cross country, and indoor/outdoor track & field. Field hockey and men’s wrestling are technically part of the ‘South Atlantic Conference Carolinas,’ a joint sponsorship venture between the SAC and Conference Carolinas. Emory & Henry added both men’s and women’s wrestling in the fall of 2020.