The Savannah College of Art and Design Announces Move to the NAIA, Withdraws from the NCAA

SAVANNAH, GA, June 19. SAVANNAH College of Art and Design's Executive Vice President Brian Murphy and Athletic Director Jud Damon announced today that the college is changing athletic affiliation and has submitted an application for membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.

Damon said the college has been discussing a move to the NAIA for several years. "It has come up time and again over the past several years for a number of different reasons, but it has become clear that it is a better match for us at this time."

One of the benefits of NAIA membership is closer proximity of other NAIA teams to Savannah, meaning less time for student-athletes away from class. If accepted, SCAD hopes to become part of the Georgia-Alabama-Carolina-Conference. The Savannah College of Art and Design already plays several teams in this conference and was affiliated with the NAIA from 1987-92. The college joined the National Collegiate Athletic Association in 1992.

Murphy said a move back to the NAIA gives more opportunities for awarding scholarships to gifted artists who also have athletic ability and want to play on the college level.

"Unlike the NCAA Division III rules, the NAIA allows for a certain level of scholarship support for student-athletes," said Murphy. "It helps to level the playing field in recruiting."

Murphy also noted a comparable quality of competition and the ability to cut down on travel time away from class as reasons for the move to the NAIA. "It’s simply an excellent move for the athletic department and the college, and I have to give athletic director Jud Damon a lot of credit for the hard work he has put in to make this decision possible," said Murphy.

According to Damon, the college expects provisional status with the NAIA for one year, during which the schedule remains the same as previously set for the coming season. "SCAD will continue to play against NCAA Division III schools this year," said Damon. "The 2003-04 season will be a transition year. We plan to play the schedules that have already been set."

Murphy said the move to the NAIA was approved by the SCAD board of trustees last month and the college has already notified the NCAA of its withdrawal from that association. Murphy said the change also was prompted by questions that arose from the NCAA last fall about how scholarships had been awarded in the past. Following these inquiries, the college conducted an internal review and found issues with how athletic programs were previously operated.

"Although our internal review is still not complete, there are indications that in the past there were circumstances where the college was not in full compliance with NCAA Division III rules," said Murphy.

In early November 2002, the college was informed by the National Collegiate Athletic Association that it was conducting a preliminary investigation into the college’s athletic program. The NCAA visited the college and conducted interviews. Since that time the NCAA has taken no further action.

Murphy said that after hiring Jud Damon as athletic director in October 2000, the college began carefully reviewing its athletic practices.

"The college has cooperated fully with the NCAA," said Damon. We respect the NCAA and are proud to have been affiliated with them for the past ten years."

"The Savannah College of Art and Design is committed to continuing to build our athletic programs," said Murphy.

"During the past year, all teams posted a winning season with several going on to post-season play. A survey conducted this spring showed a large majority of SCAD students support intercollegiate athletic competition, and we intend to provide the best teams of dedicated student-athletes within an appropriate athletic association and conference."

About SCAD Athletics
The first Savannah College of Art and Design athletic team, men’s soccer, was organized in 1983. Men’s soccer became the college’s first intercollegiate sport when SCAD became a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics in 1987. The college moved to the NCAA Division III in September 1992. SCAD fields intercollegiate teams in men’s and women’s basketball, soccer, rowing, golf, cross country, swimming, tennis and equestrian; women’s volleyball and softball; and men’s baseball. The college also sponsors a cheerleading squad, as well as sailing, men’s and women’s fencing, and women’s lacrosse.

About NAIA
The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics began in 1952, growing out of the former National Association of Intercollegiate Basketball, which, in turn, grew out of a 1937 men’s basketball tournament in Kansas City, Mo. The NAIA was the first to allow membership for historically black institutions and in 1980 was the first to offer intercollegiate opportunities to women.

Currently, the NAIA offers 23 national championship opportunities throughout the academic year. Teams have the right to play their way into the national championships, qualifying via conferences and/or regions.

The fall sports season is comprised of men’s and women’s cross country, football, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball.

The winter sports season includes Division I men’s and women’s basketball, Division II men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, and wrestling.

The spring sports season offers baseball, men’s and women’s golf, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, and men’s and women’s outdoor track and field.

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