- Oklahoma Christian coaches and athletes learn and apply the rules of the NCAA to their program
- National Championships will now be more difficult to advance to
- The program will grow by wearing the NCAA name
After an extended transition period, Oklahoma Christian University is shifting from NAIA to NCAA: Division II. This past year, OC athletes have grown familiar with what this change will mean for the future of athletics at the school.
Adapting to the Rule Changes
The transition from NAIA involves some rule changes. One student at the private college explains the use of substances that were accepted in the NAIA, but not tolerated in the NCAA. “I used to take supplements, but I have strayed away from them since I heard about the upcoming change,” said junior baseball player Austin Peck. “We will have to be really careful about the substances we take, such as too much caffeine or creatine.”
Among other changes for the athletic program will include the way scholarships are structured, the way recruiting is handled, and the way practice is monitored and recorded. “It’s really a matter of putting the procedures into place that the NCAA requires,” said Eagles’ men and women cross-country coach, Wade Miller.
Growing as Competitors
The Eagles will have to stay mentally tough throughout the process. “I don’t see a huge change in training. As far as practice hours go, there is no way we will reach the limit, which is 20 hours per week. That would be pretty intense.” Essentially practices and overall training will be the same for the cross-country runners; however the competition will be a new level. “Our national championships in cross-country are going to go up in distance,” said Miller. “For women, the conference, regional and national races are all going to be six kilometers. During the overall regular season, they will race five kilometers. So that’s going to be a change for us to prepare for in the future. As for the men, the regional and national championships will race 10 kilometers and most of the regular season races will be eight kilometers. There will be that to factor in so we need to prepare ourselves for that distance at the end of the season.” Click here to learn more about the membership requirements.
The baseball team will also undergo NCAA changes in championships. “Going to the Division II World Series will be cool because it’s a bigger stage,” said Peck. “It will be a good recruiting technique.” College students agree that this change in competition level is for the best. “It forces you to work harder and have a higher goal for yourself and your team,” said sophomore cross-country runner Katie Jones. “That can help you motivate yourself a little bit more and give you something more to strive for. Some would be content sitting at NAIA, others and myself would rather go above and beyond.”
Improving as a Program
Trials will arise as OC advances to Division II. “The challenges will be difficult at first and hopefully we will be able to overcome those,” said Miller. “I think the level of competition [will] either cause us to get better or not. We’re in a situation where we are going to have to step up as a program and I see that challenge being a good thing.”
Click here to learn more about the membership process.
Assuming that this year goes as planned and all regulations and expectations are met, OC will be a full NCAA member by next school year. “I am really looking forward to hearing from the NCAA that we are full members and being totally through the transition period,” said Miller. “Everybody is looking forward to that first full year of competition with excitement and anticipation.”