Chowan confident on athletic future

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 14, 2004

MURFREESBORO – Chowan College took their first steps toward life after the USA South Athletic Conference.

The Braves held their first annual Media Day Tuesday afternoon on the school’s campus.

Assistant Athletic Director Meredith Long welcomed the media and guests to the event and announced the affair would continue with each sports season if the school garnered support from within and the local media.

Athletic Director Debbie Warren then talked about the school’s future as it begins life as Division III Independent for the 2004-200 season.

&uot;We are building for the future,&uot; Warren said. &uot;We have a great new staff, new goals and we’re excited about the future.

&uot;We invited you to take this journey with us,&uot; she said.

Chowan College President Dr. M. Christopher White talked about the future of the college.

&uot;I’m beginning my second year at Chowan and I’m excited about the progress being made,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ve had financial difficulties that have been well-documented, but we’ve put most of them to bed now,&uot; White said.

The school’s president said he was looking forward to the school’s athletic future.

&uot;For a number of years, we’ve been NCAA Division III, and for the past several years, we’ve been a member of USA South,&uot; he said. &uot;While I’m not pleased with how that ended, I am not at all sure that it’s a bad thing for the school.

&uot;We’re looking at the program to see where we’re at,&uot; he continued. &uot;I’ve put together a blue ribbon commission to look at the future.&uot;

That group has already led to Chowan joining the National Christian College Athletic Association, White said. Chowan will be dual members of the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the NCCAA.

&uot;I’m pleased to announce that we have been approved as a full-fledge member of the National Christian College Athletic Association,&uot; he said. &uot;A significant part of Chowan’s heritage and Chowan’s future is our Christian heritage.&uot;

The second part of the group’s mission will be deciding a future course in the NCAA. According to White, the school has three choices. They can stay an NCAA Division III Independent, join a Division III conference or move to NCAA Division II.

&uot;Our best option appears to be NCAA Division II,&uot; Dr. White said. &uot;I can’t say for certain that is what will happen because the trustees will make that decision.&uot;

White said the college was approved by the NCAA to study the move during an &uot;exploratory year.&uot; If the trustees and the NCAA approve the move, there will be a two-year reclassification period after which Chowan would become a member of the NCAA Division II.

The president also said the school would be looking at adding new sports. The three most likely appear to be men’s tennis, women’s tennis and men’s cross-country.

He said the school was in a good position to make the move.

&uot;Our campus is well-suited for NCAA Division II,&uot; White insisted.

During the question portion, White was asked about possible conference affiliation at the Division II level.

&uot;The most obvious choice is what is now the Carolinas-Virginia Conference,&uot; he said. &uot;That would be for all sports except football. We would have to go another direction with football.&uot;

White said he had spoken with people from member schools within the conference that had expressed an interest in Chowan becoming a part of the league, but had not spoken with league officials.

&uot;I will visit with the conference officials after we make a decision that Division II is where we want to go,&uot; he said.

Asked if there was a viable conference alternative for Chowan at the DIII level, White admitted there probably wasn’t.

&uot;There is a Division III conference based primarily in Georgia, but the travel would be ridiculous,&uot; he said.

White also said that most documents he had seen from Chowan’s move from a junior college to four-year status indicated that all recommendations were to take the school to Division II at that time.

&uot;I don’t know what happened to change that, but here we are several years later looking at the same alternative,&uot; he said.

After White’s remarks, Chowan coaches talked about their upcoming sports season. Beck Roak will take over the volleyball team this season while Ellen Ordnung returns as cross country coach. Nate Wiley will coach men’s soccer again this year while Stuart Horne returns as women’s soccer coach. Steve Gill will be back in his second season at the helm of the Braves’ football squad.