NCAA Approves Provisional DIII Membership for BJU

"The National Collegiate Athletic Association announced the approval of Bob Jones University as a provisional member in Division III. The NCAA Division III Membership Committee approved BJU’s application and the Bruins athletics department will enter the first year of provisional status beginning September 1." - BJU Today

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Bert Perry's picture

.....the "World's Most Unusual University" is making a fairly big change here, and yes, it's going to cost them--coaches' salaries alone will likely be in the millions for 12 (14?) varsity programs.  I don't know how much facilities will be--they already had club sports that would at least provide practice facilities--but it is a bet that changing some of the culture will attract students who otherwise would not have considered BJU.   They've got a nice mix of programs that are attractive to their target constituency and not too expensive.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Jonathan Charles's picture

I don't see the point.  Sports revenue, at that level, probably doesn't pay for the cost of the teams.  Perhaps it is just a marketing thing, "We have NCAA athletics."  But division III, who is going to choose a school for that? 

Robert Byers's picture

Because Division III schools aren't allowed to offer athletic scholarships, (which also greatly reduces the risk Bert noted of attracting a different kind of student just because of athletic talent) costs are much lower.  There are about 450 schools in D3 nationwide, but most don't compete in every sport.  There are around 400 schools competing in basketball, soccer and track, with 350 or so in baseball and tennis and then fewer in others.  Less than 250 field a football team.  Coaches salaries aren't are great expense either.  Staff sizes are limited--the last time I looked D3 football was five (compared to ten for D1 football) and the salaries are way lower.  Looks like from a quick web search that the coach of last year's national champion, North Central (IL) made about $70,000.

Whether this move is a good idea, or will prove to be a net positive in the long run, remains to be seen, but it won't cost the school a great deal of money.

Bert Perry's picture

A true athletic scholarship isn't allowed, but D3 schools can and do offer differing amounts of financial aid based on extracurriculars.  I was actually offered a 3/4 ride to one D3 school (Wabash College) that sort of made sense due to my academics, but made a bit more sense since my 3200 meters time was pretty good at the time.  (9:38 for the runners out there)

(didn't take it because I wasn't totally sold on liberal arts or all male colleges, and I met Christ and my wife where I did go, so it worked out fine)

Long and short of it is that it is possible for a D3 school to "bend the rules" a touch and get more of the kind of athletes that one doesn't really want on campus.  Nowhere near the issue that it is at D1, but it's possible.  

And why bother when it's mostly an expense, where the only sports that might get revenue are hoops, baseball, and maybe soccer for BJU?  It's because many students go to schools not only based on academics, but on the "college experience".  Lots of things matter that way, from the predominant architecture to sports to the quality of the cafeteria food.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Joel Shaffer's picture

I don't see the point.  Sports revenue, at that level, probably doesn't pay for the cost of the teams.  Perhaps it is just a marketing thing, "We have NCAA athletics."  But division III, who is going to choose a school for that? 

My son plays d-3 football at Wheaton College.  Bert is right about the different financial aid and other aid based on extra-curriculars in d-3. That is the only way we can afford Wheaton.  However, d-3 schools that violate the d-3 rules get penalized.  Several d-3 schools such as Kalamazoo College have been busted for giving financial aid based on athletic ability. https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/04/05/dozens-division-iii-colle...     The school needs to show that they are giving the same financial aid for the athletes as they would for all the other students.   

I find it a good move for BJU. There will be students that wouldn't even consider BJU that will now attend because they want to continue their athletics at the collegiate level.  I am guessing that they will do a good job incorporating discipleship as part of their athletics.  That is one of the big reasons why my son chose Wheaton Football.  They emphasize and incorporate discipleship and missions as priority #1 within the football team.  And it was apparent in the lives of the guys that he stayed with during his overnight visit when he was a prospect.