Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina will vote this week on a possible transition to NCAA Division I athletics, according to CBS Sports college basketball reporter Jon Rothstein.
Sources: Queens University of Charlotte (Division II) will vote this week on a possible transition to Division 1. Have received interest from the Atlantic Sun, Big South, and others.
— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) February 8, 2022
The move would send shockwaves through collegiate swimming, as Queens has won the last 6 consecutive men’s and women’s NCAA Division II championships in swimming and diving.
The program was launched for the 2010-2011 season and benefitted from an early association with David Marsh, who was the architect of the Auburn swimming dynasty of the 2000s. Marsh was training his pro team, Team Elite, out of the Queens pool, and sparked success for the team when he funneled one of his best SwimMAC high school prospects Matthew Josa to the program.
The program has had only one official head coach in its history: Jeff Dugdale, who swam under Marsh at Auburn.
The program is the dominant one in Division II swimming, but will face a different landscape if the move to Division I is successful.
They will go from the top of the pile in Division II to having to fight to stand out with recruits among other mid-major programs in Division I. With NCAA policies on changing divisions keeping teams from competing in NCAA Championships during their transition periods, that would circuit-break some of the momentum the swimming program would take to Division I.
On the opposing side of the coin, they will be able to expand from 8.1 men’s scholarships to 9.9 per season, and women’s scholarships from 8.1 to 14 per season.
Queens is already swimming at a Division I level in some regards. They’ve raced head-to-head against 5 Division I schools this season, beating the Duke men and Davidson men, while losing to Tennessee (men and women), North Carolina (men and women), South Carolina (men and women), the Duke women, and the Davidson women.
Queens University had an undergraduate enrollment of 1,670 for fall of 2020 – the last semester unimpacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the move to Division I is likely part of plans to grow, current enrollment would make the school likely the second smallest Division I school behind only Presbyterian College in South Carolina.
Queens is a Presbyterian-affiliated private university that was founded in 1857. The school changed its name from Queens College to Queens University in Charlotte in 2002, part of a large-scale expansion of educational offerings over a decade.
The school has currently 18 varsity programs and no football team. The Levine Aquatic Center on-campus has an 8-lane, 33-meter stretch pool.
The men’s basketball program is also a strength for Queens. The team is 20-3 this season and ranked #17 in NCAA Division II.
The school’s basketball teams play in the same facility in Curry Arena, which has a capacity for 2,500 spectators. While not the smallest arena in Division I, that would put them in the smallest 10% of arenas. They averaged just over 500 spectators per game in 2020.
All of the school’s NCAA titles have come in swimming and diving.
Queens isn’t the only swimming school considering the leap to Division I: Southern Indiana University voted this week to pursue a move. The school is building a new on-campus aquatic center and launching a new swimming program next season.