USI to go DI

Shelby Clark, Casey Clark, and Fallon Heady


USI will apply to transition university athletics to NCAA Division I. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously Monday to transition athletics to DI. 

“We are making USI history on this day, Feb. 7, 2022,” said President Ronald Rochon.

The Board of Trustees had a special session Monday afternoon in Carter Hall to discuss the possible transition of university athletics from NCAA Division II to Division I. University athletics will apply for reclassification by June 1, 2022.

W. Harold Calloway, trustee, said, “I’ve seen USI moving in this direction from a high school gym, to central, to the new facility. I’m so excited and pleased to see us moving in this direction.”

Liam Collins, student trustee, made the motion to transition from DII to DI athletics.

“We get to be a part of the Division I institution, go see games, play the big schools,” Collins said. “Just the overall pride to be a University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagle.” 

As each trustee begin to vote yea, Rochon had a reflective moment “that they were making history.”

“In our 56 plus year history, there have been many firsts at USI. Our founders envisioned public higher education for our area and brought it to light,” President Rochon said. “Today in 2022, USI envisions a future that includes competing at the highest level of athletic play, Division I.”

President Ronald Rochon stands with members of the Board of Trustees after voting unanimously to transition to D1 athletics Monday. “This is a day I will never forget,” said Ron Romain, chair of the Board of Trustees. “This is a day my family will never forget and certainly the campus family at USI will never forget. It’s time, it’s time, it’s time.” (Photo by Josh Meredith)

President Ronald Rochon first announced the university would explore a possible transition to Division I Sept. 27, 2021. After the announcement, Rochon formed the Division I Exploratory Committee, a 25 member committee composed of individuals from the university community. 

The Division I Exploratory Committee provided the Board of Trustees with their final report Jan. 13. The Board of Trustees used the committee’s report to help them make their decision. 

Ron Romain, chair of the Board of Trustees, said “They’ve done a magnificent job of gathering information that the trustees have used throughout the process.”

Kindra Strupp, vice president for marketing and communications, led a subcommittee on the Division I Exploratory Committee. Before the decision, Strupp said, “The work the Exploratory Committee did collectively will provide a solid foundation for the work that needs to be done to satisfy the NCAA’s strategic planning requirements for reclassification consideration.” 

The trustees also considered the report provided by PICTOR Group before making their decision.

The athletics department will apply for reclassification by June 1, 2022, beginning the university’s four-year reclassification process. The conference the university will be partnering with has yet to be released. The Division I Exploratory Committee released attendance comparison in their final report of three conferences that “may be considered in the transition:” Horizon League Conference, Ohio Valley Conference and Atlantic Sun Conference. 

$1.5 million dollars was committed to the university upon the notion that the Board of Trustees voted to transition university athletics to Division I. The estimated $5.4 million dollar increase to the university athletic budget will be paid for through donations and a student fee.

The four-year plan proposed by the Division I Exploratory Committee will be issued starting Fall 2022. Students will pay $60 a semester in the 2022-2023 academic year. Over the four years, the student fee will increase annually ending at $475 a year.

“The work is yet to be done,” Rochon said, “This is a time where we need to come together as a unit, a community.”