Evansville community supports Division I transition


Photo by Josh Meredith

Evansville community members support the possible athletic transition to Division I.

Casey Clark and Quinton Watt

The university’s possible transition to Division I could impact more than just the campus. 

While the internal campus community is expressing reluctance about the potential athletic department transition to Division I, members of Evansville’s wider community are expressing support for the transition.

Abby Elpers, the marketing director of Evansville Regional Economic Partnership, said, “If USI were to make the jump to DI, the Evansville region would be presented on a larger stage with more visibility and the impacts would be favorable for the community.”

Elpers said she could not speak on the economic effects, but she believes they would also be positive.  

John Eickhoff, co-owner and vice president of Paul’s Menswear, said, “More students could be more shoppers for the tri-state area.”

If the university makes the transition to DI, the athletic department will have to meet their new budget goal of $12 million. The current budget is $6.6 million. The $5.4 million dollar gap will be paid for through a student fee and possible donations from the community. 

“Financially, if the school can pull it off, it would be great,” Eickhoff said. 

When presenting the Division I study to the Faculty Senate on Oct. 8, 2021, President Ronald Rochon said, “When I was announced as president, one of the first questions that was asked by the media is ‘when are we going Division I.”

Eickhoff said he hopes the university will go DI, but he said it will take a lot of work from the university. 

Eickhoff said, “I hope it works.”