The Long Haul: Powerhouse Queens University In Process of Making Leap to Division I Ranks

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The Long Haul: Powerhouse Queens University In Process of Making Leap to Division I Ranks

Queens University of Charlotte has dominated NCAA Division II swimming and diving, claiming seven straight national titles – prior to this year – for both its men’s and women’s teams, dating back to 2015. The streak could have been eight years if COVID-19 had not forced the cancellation of the 2020 meet after just one day.

However, a new challenge has arrived for the Royals. Queens is making the jump to NCAA Division I, although it’ll have to wait four years to swim at the D-I Championships. Coach Jeff Dugdale’s teams will eventually compete in the same division as other North Carolina schools such as the University of North Carolina and Duke University, not to mention all of the Power Five programs, including Cal, Texas, Virginia and Stanford.

“Our dominance in D-II was because we acted like we were D-I,” said Dugdale, also known by the title of Director of Swimming Operations. “We were able to get the best of the best athletes. We didn’t have anyone transfer because it wasn’t a leap. We don’t get to swim in the NCAA Championships until the transfer is complete (four years), but everyone is focused on something whether it be a conference meet or focused on the U.S. Open or the Olympic Trials.”

ONE-SIZE-FITS-ONE

The move is affecting the program in many ways.

“What made us unique in D-II is we were a one-size-fits-one, not fits-all. We have increased our level of women drastically. We have had a good women’s team, but our numbers now are way up,” Dugdale said.

While it seems like a natural fit for swimming, Queens University, a private school of nearly 1,700 students, made the decision to move to Division I in all sports.

“We are D-I in all the sports now. After COVID-19, D-II and D-III are funded through March Madness. When that was canceled, the board asked the trustees to come up with a plan in case this happened again. We wanted to remain viable as a small school,” Dugdale said.

“We took a risk and went D-I and wanted to increase the student body altogether. Then there is the marketing part of it. The athletic department is the gatekeeper. If we can get on TV, then people will know about us. We would increase our visibility and our viability.”

DIVISION I EXCITEMENT

So far, the Division I excitement has rubbed off on the athletes.

“I think we will arguably have one of the best recruiting classes. We have multiple swimmers who could place in the top 10 in NCAAs right away. We are recruiting the same people, and without NCAAs, we tell them we are getting ready for Paris—(the Olympics in 2024),” Dugdale said.

“We focus on the ‘why’ and the process. The ‘why’ is building leaders for life. We have to see things bigger than ourselves.”

Dudgale expects the program to see those bigger things continue to build year by year until Queens is ready to compete nationally in Division I.

“The difference will be the depth, but at the top end, we have plenty of top-level. We beat Vanderbilt, we had Tennessee, we had Auburn here. We had that schedule anyway,” Dugdale said. “There will be expectations in a few years. We have the responsibility to take us to the next level nationally and globally.”

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Steele Robert
Steele Robert
11 months ago

Great attitude and focus during the NCAA required probation period, buttheathleteportalworks? .

Hannah
Hannah
10 months ago

Queens is very good, but they do not have “multiple swimmers who could place in the to 10 at NCAAs right now.” They have no one that would have scored at all at NCAAs this year. That just a bit of recruiting hyperbole.

Two of their men’s team swimmers had times that would have been the invited to NCAAs this year, but neither would have scored at all.

None of their women’s team members would have been invited to NCAAs this year.

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