Pfeiffer becomes full-fledged NCAA Div. III Member
The NCAA Division III Membership Committee has voted to grant Pfeiffer University official NCAA Division III status, effective Sept. 1. As a result of this vote, Pfeiffer’s athletic teams will officially be eligible to compete for NCAA Championships at the beginning of the upcoming 2020-2021 athletics season.
The Pfeiffer University athletics department began the reclassification process from NCAA Division II to Division III with an exploratory year in the 2016-17 academic year. Year one of the provisional process officially began in 2017-18 academic year and over the transition from 2017-2019, Pfeiffer joined the USA South Athletic Conference and has satisfied the NCAA requirements for the transition.
Unlike Divisions I and II, Division III members do not offer athletic financial aid to student-athletes.
Originally a four-year process, Pfeiffer and fellow USA South member Brevard each obtained waivers that would narrow the reclassification process to just three years.
“A lot of credit goes to our student-athletes, coaches and current and past administrators for getting us to this point,” said Pfeiffer Director of Athletics Danielle Lafferty.
“This process took a lot of hard work, patience and support from all. It took four years to receive news from the National Office that they have granted us full membership where I applaud the dedication and patience from our student-athletes and coaches,” she said. “We see so much opportunity for success within Division III and the USA South and we are excited for our student-athletes to finally have the opportunity to fully compete for NCAA and USA South Championships. We have ingrained the Division III mission and values into each of our programs and are excited for the new vision of Division III athletics here at Pfeiffer. We look forward to competing at the highest level of Division III and providing an excellent experience our student-athletes can have in competition and in the classroom.”
During the reclassification, Pfeiffer has earned postseason berths in several sports offered by the ECAC, with women’s soccer, women’s basketball, cross country, indoor track and field, men’s tennis, baseball, softball, women’s lacrosse and men’s lacrosse. Pfeiffer’s softball team won the ECAC Division III championships in both 2018 and 2019 while the baseball team captured their first ECAC title in 2019. The men’s tennis team enjoyed success in ECAC competition as well, winning the 2018 championship. The indoor track and field programs have also brought home several podium finishes in their ECAC championship competitions.
“This is a great day for Pfeiffer University Athletics,” head men’s soccer coach Tony Faticoni said. “I had the pleasure of being part of the coaching staff during the 2015 NCAA Championship season and we always strive to give our student-athletes an unrivaled experience. I look forward to the coming years and with providing our players an experience in full NCAA competition that they will cherish.”
Andrew Howard, Pfeiffer’s head cross country and track and field coach, echoed Faticoni.
“I am truly excited for our athletics program to be able to compete fully in the NCAA and USA South this year,” Howard said. “It has been a long four years and I know Danielle (Lafferty), and Melanie (Wilson) and countless others have worked hard and spent many tireless hours in getting Pfeiffer to this point.”
Pfeiffer student-athletes are also excited about the opportunity.
“I am excited to officially be a member of Division lll and cannot wait to finish my senior season, competing for the championship with my teammates,” junior volleyball player Emma Gray Beacham said.
Geographically, Pfeiffer became the ninth Division III institution in North Carolina, eight of which currently compete in the USA South Conference.
Division III is the largest category of competition offered by the NCAA, with more than 180,000 student-athletes at 450 institutions nationwide, many with a focus on the liberal arts and academic quality. With Division III athletics, each team practices and plays according to regular season that enable student-athletes better time and access to study abroad and student leadership opportunities, among other academic advantages.
Pfeiffer University Athletics Membership Timeline
NAIA – 1957-1978
NAIA and NCAA Division II (Dual Membership) – 1978-1995
NCAA Division II – 1995-2017
NCAA Division III (Provisional Membership) – 2017-2020
NCAA Division III (Full Membership) – beginning in 2020-2021 academic year