Audio Interview: Keith Baker
Grand Canyon University announced today it has accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference and will begin the process of reclassification from NCAA Division II to NCAA Division I status in athletics during the 2013-14 academic year.
This is an historic day in the life of Grand Canyon University," said Brian Mueller, the University's president and chief executive officer. "We have made a commitment to excellence in athletics, just as we have academically, and that commitment has been recognized by the invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference, a conference with a storied past. NCAA Division I status will raise our university's profile and illuminate the great things happening at Grand Canyon."
The Grand Canyon University wrestling program currently competes in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and NCAA Super Regional IV at the Division II level and will remain eligible for all RMAC Championships as well as NCAA Division II postseason championships in 2012-13. At this point the future D1 conference for the wrestling team is still undecided. Potential options based on location could be the Western Wrestling Conference or the Pac-12 conference.
"We are very excited for the future of GCU Wrestling" said 6th year Head Coach R.C. LaHaye. "GCU is a University that loves and supports the sport of wrestling, we started the program from scratch 6 years ago and now we are heading to the highest level of intercollegiate athletics, With that being said we need to evaluate our current athletes and signed recruits and make the best choices for each of them individually and address their future goals and aspirations."
GCU's athletic teams will begin competing as Division I programs beginning next year. Reclassification to Division I athletics is a four-year process, during which time GCU will not be eligible for NCAA Championships. Following the transitional four-year period, providing the University has met all NCAA standards, GCU will become a full Division I member.
The Antelopes are coming off of an impressive 2011-12 campaign that saw them crowned as winners of the Division II Learfield Sports Directors' Cup, which recognizes the top university based on athletic performance.