The possibility of SIU-Edwardsville’s Cougars facing the SIU Salukis in Division I competition became real Wednesday.
SIU’s Board of Trustees allowed the Edwardsville campus to seek top-tier status in the NCAA, voting 7-2 to begin the application process.
The board’s vote will allow the Edwardsville campus to submit a formal application to the NCAA. SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift said the process would take about five years.
“I think this is a decision that had a lot of thought behind it,” Vandegrift said.
The move would require SIUE to host four more games on its campus and make it responsible for NCAA attendance requirements. Rules outlining which teams they play will also become stricter.
SIUE athletics compete at the Division II level. Vandegrift said the campus would seek a change in its conference – the Cougars are in the Great Lakes Valley Confererence – and apply for Division I status by June 1.
SIUE student representative Jesse Phelps argued that the time was not right for the move.
“I’ve seen students who are struggling trying to pay for the necessary costs of an education and this is an optional one,” Phelps said. “When you do the cost-benefit analysis, I do not see the benefit as overwhelming the cost.”
Joining him in a vote of nay was Trustee Sam Goldman, who did not cite his reasons during the meeting but requested they be included in the minutes.
Interim Chancellor John Dunn said SIUE – which has boosted its enrollment recently while SIUC’s numbers dwindle – has made progress and deserves the opportunity.
He said elevating to Division I status was an important step in SIUC’s history and he hopes it works for them.
SIU President Glenn Poshard said he sees the Carbondale and Edwardsville campuses as separate entities, but the move could help the system as a whole.
“I think what strengthens one campus strengthens the whole system,” Poshard said. “(SIUE) is the whole package now.”
In other business, several Undergraduate Student Government members expressed concern at proposed fee increases.
University administrators have suggested raising several fees – one specifically for the Saluki Way construction project – and increasing tuition for new students.
Trustees are slated to consider raising student fees at the April 12 meeting in Edwardsville.
USG senator Jeff Jaynes asked the board to consider the increases with a critical eye.
He said asking students to invest in Saluki Way before there is no “good solid investment” is a mistake.
He cited the lack of money collected and a lack planning, such as blueprints, which would cause fee numbers to change.
Dunn said he thinks the university has gotten into a pattern of setting fees and then presenting them. He said the university could do a better job of consulting with campus groups before making fee decisions.
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