Benedictine pulls 180, will return to D-III

Benedictine touchdown catch
The Benedictine athletics department starts this season hanging between Division III and Division II, and will be in a different kind of limbo as it elects to return to Division III before it ever really left.
Benedictine athletics photo

By Pat Coleman

When the fall season started, there were three Division III schools in various stages of moving to Division II. But one is already returning, as Benedictine University, in Lisle, Illinois, has decided to not leave Division III after all, sources tell and Hoopsville.

The Eagles, who were accepted into the NCAA Division II provisional process for this fall, were also accepted as members in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, as the 16th school in that league. However, neither of those transitions will come to fruition, as Benedictine has elected to turn around and return to Division III.

The university’s board of trustees voted to make the change at a recent meeting, according to multiple sources. Sources declined to be identified, as the university is not ready to make an official announcement. Michael Brophy, who was president of Benedictine University for the past two years, left unexpectedly in August, shortly after he had been reappointed through 2022.

Benedictine is not the first team to turn around and abandon plans to join Division II. McMurry left Division III in 2012 and returned starting in 2014, requiring the War Hawks to go through the complete Division III transitional period. It’s unclear so far when Benedictine will be eligible in Division III again. Although the Eagles have not awarded any athletic scholarship money so far, they have been free to begin following other Division II rules. With that in mind, Benedictine is not eligible for the NCAA Division III postseason in 2018-19, and it’s unclear if the school could get that restored at this date.

The remaining questions have to do with how Benedictine’s Division III conference, the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference, will deal with the school’s membership, as well as how the NCAA will view Benedictine.

The University of Texas-Tyler, remains on track to join Division II and is in the provisional period, while Frostburg State University, in Frostburg, Maryland, announced plans to join Division II and was offered conference membership in the Mountain East Conference, but did so after the 2018-19 deadline and did not enter Division II’s provisional pipeline for this fall.

Contributing: Dave McHugh,