The recent success of IUP athletics could have some believing the university is on its way to becoming a Division-I program, but Athletic Director Steve Roach made it clear that that’s not an option.
“As a university,” Roach said, “there is no intention of transitioning any sports or our department to the Division-I level. We feel that we are exactly where we need to be as a Division-II institution competing in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.”
Faculty athletic representative Jim Racchini believes there is something specifically standing in the way of IUP making this leap.
“Title IX makes it hard on the university based on the amount of athletes on each program,” Racchini said.
Title IX is an act that calls for equal participation and a fair scale of female to male athletes. In 2014, IUP was one of nine state schools accused of not following this act. The fact that there are eight male athletic programs and 11 female programs would lead one to believe that IUP follows Title IX accordingly. But the amount of athletes on the football team compared to the others is what causes it to be more male athletes. The NCAA allows 90 athletes on a team, and the 2015 Crimson Hawks had 84 players listed on their roster.
The case filed stated that IUP must add 77 additional athletic opportunities for women programs to achieve the state ratio of men-to-female athletes.
“I think IUP is best suited for PSAC play as of right now,” Racchini said.
IUP’s athletic programs earned nine PSAC titles since 2010.
In 2015, 64 IUP athletes earned All-PSAC honors.
On the academic side, IUP produced nine CoSIDA Academic All-District selections in 2014-15. This year, IUP has three selections from the fall semester.
When the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex opened in 2011, some saw that as a sign that IUP was pushing for Division I.
But George P. Miller Stadium, home of the IUP football, field hockey, lacrosse and soccer teams, hasn’t been upgraded recently other than with a new scoreboard. However, new turf will be on the field this summer. The university also upgraded the tennis courts earlier this year.
“We are in the process of developing a new strategic plan that will guide us over the next five years,” Roach said. “Academically, we have initiated an academic support program to identify ways that we can better support our student-athletes. With regard to the community, we want to be engaged, letting the residents of the community get to know our student-athletes.”