The recommendation will be acted upon later this summer. If approved, OBU will be one year from full membership in the NCAA and the Great American Conference and would become an active member in beginning with the 2017-18 academic year.
"We are pleased with the NCAA's decision to transition OBU into year three of the candidacy process," said Dr. David Whitlock, OBU president. "The progression toward NCAA Division II membership is a clear reflection of the hard work and dedication of our athletics department staff, coaches and student-athletes. We are proud of their efforts and are excited to move forward as we continue this great chapter in history for OBU athletics."
OBU officially started the NCAA Division II membership process in 2014 with its application and played its last season in the NAIA in 2014-15. The Great American Conference accepted OBU as a provisional member and the Bison began play in the league in 2015-16. During the transition process, OBU is also competing in postseason championship events with the National Christian College Athletic Association.
"The recommendation by the committee to move OBU forward to the third year of the membership transition marks an exciting stage for Bison Athletics," said OBU director of athletics Robert Davenport. "This also is more than a success for the Athletics Department. Just about every office on campus played an important role in impressing the membership committee. The committee's favorable response was a result of a unified team effort."
In 2015-16, OBU was expected to be in full compliance with Division II legislation. Several requirements must be met during provisional year two, including demonstrated administration of its athletics program in accordance with the constitution, bylaws and other legislation of the NCAA; demonstrated involvement and commitment of the president or chancellor at the institution in the membership process, as determined by the Membership Committee; an on-campus assessment conducted by an outside group selected by the Membership Committee; completion of the NCAA Compliance Blueprint Review; an annual report included an updated athletics department strategic plan; attendance at the NCAA Division II Convention Business and Membership Committee Sessions; and attendance at the Regional Rules Seminar conducted by the NCAA.
For OBU to be accepted for full membership after year three, the program must continue those requirements from year two and attend the NCAA Inclusion Forum. Institutional representatives required to attend are the senior woman administrator and a senior level administrator outside of athletics; attendance by the faculty athletics representative at the Faculty Athletics Representative Association National Convention; and attendance by the senior woman administrator at a professional development event (for example, NACWAA Convention, Administrative Enhancement Institute, NACDA Convention).
Until 2015-16, Oklahoma Baptist competed in the NAIA, where the Bison stocked up 20 national championships and won the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup as the top overall athletics program in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
In its first year outside the NAIA, Oklahoma Baptist won five NCCAA national championships, sweeping the men's and women's indoor and outdoor track and field titles, as well as the first NCCAA Baseball World Series. The Bison also garnered the NCCAA All-Sports Award as the association's top overall program, while the Lady Bison tennis squad earned the regular season GAC title.