What does D-II mean?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 25, 2007

MURFREESBORO – So just what does it mean to be NCAA Division II?

Chowan University will officially garner the distinction of playing at the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II level come September 1, but exactly what does that mean for the institution?

The Hawks, who reclassified from Division III status, see the change as beneficial both to the student-athletes and the university. Officials with the college said Monday they believe Chowan will be a stronger institution because of the change.

It will also help the university with a focus they’ve always believed in.

“We’re preparing people here to be better citizens and to be successful in life,” Hawks’ Athletic Director Dennis Helsel said. “Students at the Division II level are forced to maintain a balance of academics, athletics and community service.”

The NCAA Division II in fact stresses the balance of the student-athlete as their main focus.

“As Division II schools and conferences, our emphasis for the student-athlete experience is a comprehensive program of learning and development in a personal setting,” the D-II information booklet said. “Our approach provides growth opportunities through academic achievement, learning in high-level athletic competition and development of positive societal attitudes in service to the community.

“The balance and integration of these different areas of learning opportunity provide our student-athletes a path to graduation while cultivating a variety of skills and knowledge for life ahead,” it continued.

Division II has a six-point plan to provide a well-rounded student-athlete. That plan includes:

* Learning n we provide multiple learning opportunities to broaden knowledge and skills;

* Service n we develop positive societal attitudes through contributions to the community;

* Passion n we possess enthusiastic dedication and desire in effort;

* Sportsmanship n we have a respect for fairness, courtesy and ethical conduct toward others;

* Resourcefulness n we develop a versatile skill set drawn from a broad range of experiences; and

* Balance n we place emphasis on collective knowledge and an integration of skills.

The designation, of course, also means the Hawks will be able to offer full athletic scholarships and will also look to join an NCAA Division II conference.

As he looks at the road ahead, Helsel said he realizes there are difficult tasks to be managed to make Chowan a school that is worthy of D-II status.

“I admit when I turned in the report, I took a five-day vacation,” Helsel mused. “I exhaled and breathed a little.

“When I got back, two thoughts crossed my mind. The first was, what if we weren’t approved and I failed to accomplish the main goal the president set for me.

“The second was, what if we are approved,” he laughed. “Now I have to do everything we said we would get done in the report.”

Helsel said he knew making headway would be slow, but worth the effort.

“One, it will be hard,” he said, “but it will also be refreshing to work on some of those issues.

“What helps us is having a president who supports athletics at Chowan University and who has a plan for this university,” he added.

Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Sports Analyst Gattis Hodges said the designation would be both beneficial and challenging.

“It certainly means we’ll see more talented teams in Murfreesboro, but on the other hand, it will be a real challenge for the Hawks to meet those standards,” Hodges said. “I’m looking forward to seeing how they rise to meet the challenge.”