Courtesy of Academy of Art Sports Information
San Francisco, Calif. - A summer of milestones for Academy of Art University Athletics continued on July 12 when Urban Knights received notification from the National Collegiate Athletic Association that its athletic program has been granted full membership privileges by the NCAA Division II Committee.
This is the final step in becoming an across-the-board active Division II program, officially making Academy of Art University the first and only art school in the NCAA.
“I am so pleased and proud that we have successfully achieved this important goal,” Dr. Elisa Stephens, president of Academy of Art University, said. “In the Academy of Art University's 83 years of educating artists, 2012 will certainly be remembered for this momentous achievement. Our athletics department brings tremendous benefit to all parts of the university, and with the NCAA full membership, we will continue on our path to excellence.”
Beginning Sept. 1 for the upcoming 2012-13 athletics season, the Urban Knights will be eligible for the first time to compete in NCAA-sanctioned Division II post-season competition.
Academy of Art University also will begin participation in the National Letters of Intent program under the auspices of the NCAA.
In 2006, ART U's athletics department was established by former Director of Athletics and current University of Nebraska Associate Athletic Director Dr. Jamie Williams.
Beginning their competitive seasons in 2008, the Urban Knights quickly made a name for themselves with numerous highlights including winning a Pacific West Conference Championship in cross country, upsetting nationally-ranked opponents, and completing several winning campaigns fraught with post-season accolades.
This summer, Academy of Art had its first athlete ever drafted by a Major League Baseball team and its first athlete to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials.
“First, I'd like to thank the NCAA Membership Committee and its liaisons for providing the opportunity and roadmap to complete the process of becoming a fully active member of its association,” Williams said. “It is honor for the Academy of Art University to reach its goal of NCAA status, while providing a venue for artistic athletes to compete on the intercollegiate level. The arduous journey, pioneered by President Elisa Stephens and a fellowship of young athletic administrators and coaches, has strengthened the program for continued success in supporting student-athlete artists. The future is, indeed, bright."
Academy of Art University successfully completed the “exploratory” and “provisional” cycles of the certification process after applying for NCAA Division II membership in 2009. An NCAA membership sub-committee visited Academy of Art University in March for an on-campus assessment to determine if the university met guidelines and all benchmarks for full status.
“This wonderful news of our acceptance into active NCAA Division II membership is the culmination of the incredible vision of Dr. Williams and President Stephens,” Interim Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator Stephanie Strowbridge said. “Their tireless dedication to the development of a top-tier Division II program has been our lighthouse, consistently guiding this fledgling program forward throughout the past few years. We are thrilled to now offer the full array of opportunities active NCAA Division II membership provides to our artist-athletes. This is truly a great day to be an Urban Knight.”
The NCAA praised the Urban Knight effort.
“Academy of Art University has done an exceptional job throughout the membership process,” NCAA Assistant Director of Membership Affairs Jess Rigler said. “The Division II community is very excited to welcome it into the NCAA family.”
The certification process, mandated in 1993, is carried out to ensure the integrity of an institution's athletic department and to assist institutions in improving their athletic departments. Self studies are required in the areas of governance and commitment to rules compliance, academic integrity, gender equity and diversity, and student-athlete well-being.
Academy of Art University currently supports 16 intercollegiate sports – men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's golf, women's volleyball, baseball, softball, women's tennis, as well as men's and women's indoor and outdoor track & field.
The Urban Knights are a member of the rapidly expanding PacWest Conference.