Benedictine to begin transition to NCAA Division II membership

Photo courtesy of Benedictine athletics

A top-10 nationally ranked NCAA Division III team will make the move to Division I-II men’s volleyball.

Benedictine University announced it was granted permission from the NCAA to begin the multiple-year process of becoming a NCAA Division II member.

“In any university’s development, there are landmark moments that help define an institution,” Benedictine President Michael Brophy said in a statement. “This move is going to give our athletics program the opportunity to advance and grow as never before.”

Benedictine finished last season at No. 9 in the national coaches poll — the third-best ranking for a Midwest men’s volleyball team. The Illinois school also won a program-record 21 matches in 2018 and advanced to the NACC Tournament finals.

The NCAA Division II transition process for the Benedictine men’s volleyball team and the school’s other 18 varsity teams will take three years and is scheduled to conclude in time for the 2021-22 school year. The Eagles will be a provisional NCAA Division II member beginning in the 2019-20 school year but will be ineligible for the postseason until they earn full membership status.

Benedictine will play next season as a NCAA Division III member and is prohibited from the Division III postseason.

The Eagles opted to move to Division II following the university conducting a feasibility study in 2017 that examined the issue of reclassification. In addition, the school’s board of trustees in December approved the study’s recommendation to apply for Division II membership.

Along with transitioning from Division III, Benedictine announced it will join the Great Lakes Valley Conference in 2019-20.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for Benedictine University,” athletics director Mark McHorney said in a statement. “A move to Division II and participation in the GLVC increases Benedictine’s regional visibility and will appeal to athletes seeking to play at a higher competitive level by opening the door to new student recruitment markets in the Midwest.”

Men’s volleyball is not among the sports that the GLVC sponsors. With the addition of Benedictine, though, the Division II conference will have four schools with men’s volleyball teams.

Lewis, McKendree and Quincy are all GLVC members that compete in the MIVA.

Benedictine is a private Catholic university located in Lisle, Illinois. In addition, the school had an enrollment of 5,101 undergraduate students last year.