The University of Southern Indiana, which is adding a swimming and diving program this coming school year, voted unanimously on February 7th in approval to move from Division II to Division I.
USI President Ronald S. Rochon spoke on the change saying, “Today, in 2022, USI envisions a future that includes competing at the highest level of athletic play, Division I. This move will serve to elevate the University athletically and academically. This is a proud moment for this institution; for our students, faculty and staff; for our more than 47,000 alumni; and for this community and the State of Indiana.”
The vote was approved unanimously in a vote of 9-0.
The school has previously announced that they will be adding both a men’s and women’s swimming and diving program beginning this fall for the 2022-2023 school year. This will bring the total varsity athletic programs to 19. They also are currently in the process of building a pool. The school has also already announced that Cameron Kainer will be the program’s head coach. Kainer has previously been a head coach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (2020-2021) as well as his alma mater University of Texas Permian (2013-2020).
The school now is in search of a bid to join a conference where they then will have to submit a formal bid for reclassification. Once they are approved for the move, they will join the University of Evansville as Division I programs located in Evansville, Indiana. The process typically takes four years. During the transition period, no NCAA Championship participation can take place for any sport.
Southern Indiana has a total undergraduate enrollment of 6,093 for the 2021-2022 school year. The school does not feature a football team, but the basketball arena is a total of 90,000 square feet with 4,800 seats.
Southern Indiana is not the first Division II school to have discussed making the move recently as Division II Swimming powerhouse Queens University is also expected to vote on the move sometime this week. Schools currently in the transition period from Division II to Division I are UCSD, Cal-Baptist, Northern Alabama, Merrimack, Bellarmine, Dixie State, and Tarleton State. In addition, St. Thomas is also in the transition period from Division III to Division I. Out of these eight schools, only Northern Alabama and Tarleton State do not feature swimming and diving programs.
Division I allows for an increased scholarship amount compared to Division II. Both men’s and women’s programs in Division II would be allowed 8.1 scholarships compared to 9.9 for men and 14 for women allowed in Division I.