Over the last few months, Collegiate Consulting completed DI Feasibility Studies and DI Strategic Plans for three institutions as part of their reclassification from Division II to Division I: Bellarmine, Dixie State, and Tarleton State.
Dixie State and Tarleton State joined the WAC, effective July 1, 2020, with Bellarmine joining the ASUN. Collegiate Consulting provided a comprehensive revenue and expense assessment for each institution as well as analysis of potential target conferences. We developed a seven-year pro-forma as part of the study and assisted with securing a conference invitation for all three institutions. In the past decade, Collegiate Consulting has assisted 15-of-the-21 schools that has reclassified to Division I, including Northern Kentucky, UMass Lowell, Grand Canyon, Cal Baptist and SIU Edwardsville.
PENSACOLA, FL (September 14, 2020) – Collegiate Consulting has worked with University of West Florida several times over recent years. In 2011, we were retained to conduct a comprehensive Football Feasibility Study. We have worked with WFU four times since the initial Football Feasibility Study in 2011.
The factors that were considered in this study also looked at adding an additional women’s sport for Title IX purposes, or potentially making the move to Division I. After providing the 238-page report to West Florida, they made the decision to move forward with adding a Division II football program and a women’s swimming and diving program. We returned in 2014 to provide a Comprehensive Benchmarking Report prior to football’s 2016 launch.
The women’s swimming and diving program had its inaugural season in the 2013-14 year. Football had its first game on September 3rd, 2016. Both programs have found significant success on and off the field. The football team now has an on-campus field house and turf practice field and is in the top-20 for average game attendance.
In only its second year of competition, the football team made it to the 2017 National Title Game. Two years later, in the programs fourth year of competition, the football team won the 2019 Division II National Championship. In FY2013, athletics raised $296,436, four years later in FY2017, the number had increased to nearly one million dollars in donations.
Eastern Washington University, the 2018 FCS runner-up, is undertaking a comprehensive review of its intercollegiate athletic program, after a faculty report, which recommended multiple options of EWU athletics including discontinuing athletics; dropping football and/or divisional reclassification.
UC-Riverside, which underwent a similar study in 2008, is currently holding internal discussions after the faculty recommended that the institution discontinue its intercollegiate athletic program.
NYIT, Division II, has announced it will suspend its intercollegiate athletic program for two years.
The past six months has witnessed a number of Division I programs drop sports – Stanford dropped 11 programs; Brown dropped eight; George Washington and William & Mary both dropped seven programs; and Dartmouth dropped five.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we get the question “what are we hearing” every day. What we are hearing and seeing, and what projects we are working on reveal a lot about the current environment of college athletics. It has been very interesting for us.
When all of this started, we picked up several conference realignment projects, as well as a handful of divisional feasibility studies (NAIA-DII; DII-DI; FCS-FBS). This kept us extremely busy through August.
In August, we felt our office would be relatively quiet as campuses re-opened and discussions with us would be tabled; and that is what happened.
Since Labor Day, the environment has been very similar to the Spring; except our conversations have been about the contraction of sports, divisional reclassification to lower division and over-arching questions such as “where do intercollegiate athletics fit within our institution.”
We expect these discussions will continue to be a focus across the country as institutions look at scenarios to contain costs.
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