Dear Highland Cavaliers!
Welcome back to a new academic year! UVa-Wise Athletics is transitioning to NCAA Division II competition, and some changes are coming. As an ardent fan of college sports, and coming from a university with a successful NCAA Division I athletics program, I bring leadership experience in transitioning across athletics associations. While I was dean, FGCU transitioned to NCAA Division I sports. I chaired the Governance and Commitment to Rules Compliance subcommittee of the self-study Steering Committee. The experience allowed me to delve into NCAA rules and compliance and to better understand the importance of athletics oversight and policy development.
Upon my arrival at UVa-Wise, I met with Athletic Director Danny Sterling and the athletics staff to learn about our program’s organization and operation. I am happy to report that our athletics program is in very good shape. Over the past year, UVa-Wise implemented a comprehensive NCAA compliance program and increased its academic program. This summer the UVa-Wise athletics program advanced into candidacy year two of a three-year NCAA Division II membership process because of the hard work of Sim Ewing, Danny Sterling, Kendall Rainey, Tom Nyman, faculty representative Tom Costa, coaches and staff. The transition reflects the College’s vision of providing the best opportunities for our deserving and dedicated student-athletes. The notoriety of the NCAA brand and the resources afforded members will advance UVa-Wise Athletics to the next level.
UVa-Wise is an inaugural member of the new Mountain East Conference. The MEC, with 12 Division II NCAA schools, begins its first season this fall. The conference, based in Bridgeport, W.Va., is made up of several schools formerly in the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletics Conference. This includes: University of Charleston, Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Shepherd University, West Liberty University, Wheeling Jesuit University, West Virginia State College and West Virginia Wesleyan College. The conference is also comprised of three new schools outside of West Virginia. They include: Notre Dame College in Ohio, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and Urbana College in Ohio.
I was invited to the first football practice this summer, and I know the Highland Cavaliers are ready to compete in the MEC! I look forward to the collegial rivalries that will develop. The women’s tennis team will play our very first MEC home game on Sept. 7. I will lead the celebration with activities to recognize our move up into Division II competition. The celebration will continue for each first home game in the MEC! The Cavs’ Gap will become a place for student tailgating to gear up for the games in Smith Stadium and Prior Convocation Center. I look forward to joining the Cavs’ Nation to overwhelm our competition with our Cavalier spirit!
There is good news to report as we welcome lacrosse coach Megan Dennehy to the family. Megan will be educating our fans and region about lacrosse over the coming year and building the program for intercollegiate play in spring 2015.
The NCAA Division II Athletics Directors Association announced the 2012-13 recipients of the D2ADA Academic Achievement Awards. To receive an award, the student-athlete must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.5 or higher, a minimum of four semesters of college level work, and have been an active member of an intercollegiate team during his/her last academic year. A record number of institutions (171) and student-athletes (6,881) were recognized for the award, and UVa-Wise had 28 student-athletes obtain the award.
During my eight months at UVa-Wise, it is clear that our fans are passionate about the college and the Highland Cavaliers. The success of our athletics program is possible due to the support of our faculty, students, alumni and friends. I look forward to seeing you at our games. GO CAVS!
Donna P. Henry