Flagler College Looking to Raise Athletic Status; St. Augustine School Studying a Possible Move from NAIA to NCAA Division II

By Abrams, Alex | The Florida Times Union, August 11, 2005 | Go to article overview

Flagler College Looking to Raise Athletic Status; St. Augustine School Studying a Possible Move from NAIA to NCAA Division II


Abrams, Alex, The Florida Times Union


Byline: ALEX ABRAMS

For nearly two decades, Dave Barnett listened to the debate on whether Flagler College should have an NCAA Division II athletic department.

But nothing changed. At least not until Barnett, Flagler's athletic director and baseball coach, was called into a meeting with college president William Abare in June.

During the meeting, Abare informed Barnett that he wanted to explore the option of moving Flagler out of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and into more lucrative options in Division II.

"We've probably been a good fit for the NCAA for a long time, but we've enjoyed our affiliation with NAIA," Barnett said.

After years of being content with competing in the NAIA, it appears that Flagler, a private school with an enrollment of 2,046 in 2004, is on the verge of making a costly, yet potentially rewarding, move to Division II.

Flagler submitted an application -- and a $1,000 application fee -- to the NCAA in June, informing the governing body of the school's intentions to look into becoming a Division II member.

Abare said he hopes the school's board of trustees supports his vision of trying to get more exposure for the athletic department. The board of trustees meets today.

"I'm going to ask for the board to give us its blessing to go forward with this study," Abare said earlier this week. But he noted that this is "not a board of trustees decision."

The University of North Florida enjoyed much success after making the move from NAIA to Division II, becoming a full-fledged member in 1993. UNF has since decided to go to Division I, and will begin its first season in the highest classification this year.

Flagler, meanwhile, has already started what is considered an exploratory year. The school will compete in the NAIA while also looking at the potential costs and rewards of going to Division II.

At the end of the exploratory year, Flagler could decide to remain in the NAIA or start a four-year transition to Division II.

"It's going to be a year where we take a hard look at NAIA," Abare said. "It's also going to be a year where we can take a step back and look at our athletic department."

Abare said the school would need to increase its athletic budget between $200,000 and $400,000 a year to cover the costs of moving to Division II. …

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