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Cal State San Marcos’ move to Division II is official

SAN MARCOS — After a decade of plans, benchmarks and patience, the Cal State San Marcos athletics department received the news they had been waiting for.

They’re officially a Division II school.

The National Collegiate Athletics Association notified the school on July 9 that it had completed its transition from National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics to NCAA Division II membership.

“This move benefits our athletics program on multiple levels,” CSUSM President Karen Haynes said. “During the transition to Division II, we have been establishing exciting rivalries with regional universities, our student-athletes have been able to spend more time in the classroom thanks to reduced travel time, and our University is better aligned athletically with schools of similar size and stature. This is another great day for the University and our athletics program.”

The process technically began three years ago when the NCAA approved the school’s application for D-II candidacy after rejecting the school’s previous attempts in 2009 and 2012.

But for university officials, the journey from the NAIA to  D-II dates back to before 20006, when the school began to build up its athletics department with the intent to move on from the NAIA, which is largely composed of smaller, parochial colleges.

Cal State San Marcos sought to join D-II to compete against schools of similar size and demographics. The move would also cut down on travel costs, as putting together a competitive national NAIA schedule required the school to schedule many of its athletic events out of state, including the Association of Independent Institutions conference tournaments, which are usually across the country.

As part of its transition, Cal State San Marcos entered the California Collegiate Athletic Association, a 12-team D-II athletic conference composed largely of San Marcos’ sister Cal State institutions and UC San Diego, schools with reputation of academic excellence.

Cal State San Marcos’ teams have competed in full D-II schedules the past two years, but as part of their transition were not able to compete in postseason tournaments. As a full member, their teams are now eligible for those tournaments.

The school also needed to build the facilities to compete in D-II before its transition, chief of which was an on-campus arena for its indoor sports teams.

Men’s basketball and women’s volleyball both have boasted gaudy records since their inception in 2010, all the while playing in front of sparse crowds at local junior college and high school gymnasiums, including Pacific Ridge and Escondido high schools and MiraCosta College.

The $11.4-million, 1,400-seat Sports Center opened last year, giving the men’s basketball and women’s volleyball programs a permanent home and a chance to compete in front of true home crowds.

The athletics department will host a public celebration of the transition on Aug. 31 at The Sports Center.