Incarnate Word moves to Div. I in the fall

University of the Incarnate Word's sophomore Austin Jordan

The University of the Incarnate Word, located in San Antonio, is making the transition from Division II to Division I golf in the fall. Officially on June 1, the Cardinals will become a Division I team, and then on July 1, the team will join the Southland Conference.

Though Incarnate Word will be part of the Southland in the fall, it won't officially begin counting as a Division I team until the 2014-15 season because of scheduling purposes, and then will be fully eligible for the NCAA Championships in 2017-18. The university will join the Southland Conference with oversight and assistance for all sports.

“There’s not much of a change,” men’s and women’s head coach Brad Martin said. “The budgets will go up, and there are different NCAA rules. That’s it, but it’s been a fun process.”

They will go through the same conference change that Bryant University recently went through. The Bulldogs, of the Northeast Conference, also made the change from Division II to Division I. They were able to compete in Division I tournaments, even the conference championship, but not count toward the team totals.

“With the realignment, we (Incarnate Word) cannot go past conference championships for those four years, but it may be different for individuals, so I have our compliance staff looking into that,” Martin said.

Incarnate Word president Louis Agnese Jr., whom Martin calls the "brainchild" behind the move, wanted to make the transition now rather than later.

“It’s just the next step in growing the university and our sports programs,” Martin said.

The team wants to be able to compete right away, not only in the Southland Conference, but also at the national level. Since the coaching staff has already started to recruit the higher Division I players, “anything is possible,” Martin said.

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