NCAA gives final approval toward TSU’s D-1 status

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 26, 2002

The NCAA Management Council gave final approval to the Troy State football program’s Division I-A petition on Wednesday when it voted unanimously to grant the school active membership, beginning Sept. 1.

The decision caps a five-year movement by the University, which began with its initial declaration in December 1996. Since that time, the program has fulfilled NCAA attendance and scheduling requirements to finalize the transition, averaging 17,000 in paid attendance per home game from 1998-2001 while also scheduling a minimum of seven I-A opponents from 2002-2005. The Trojans will play eight Division I-A opponents in 2002, facing Nebraska, UAB, Iowa State, Missouri, Mississippi State, Marshall, Arkansas and Utah State.

"This is one of the biggest days in the history of athletics at our University," TSU Athletics Director Johnny Williams said. "So much hard work has been put in by so many people to make this a reality. I want to thank our fans, corporate sponsors, corporate ticket partners and the institutions that elected to play us for making this possible."

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The Trojans played their "transition" season in 2001, finishing 7-4 overall and 3-4 against Division I-A competition. Williams then finalized the program’s scheduling requirements in May and submitted a final report to the NCAA in June.

The University’s 15 other sports already compete at the Division I level, moving from Division II to Division I in 1993.

"This is a wonderful day and the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people," said Trustee Allen Owen, chairman of the board’s Committee on Athletics. "The University staff, Chancellor Jack Hawkins, Vice President Doug Patterson, the Board of Trustees and Athletics Director Johnny Williams have done a marvelous job moving this program forward. A great deal of thanks also goes to the people in the City of Troy, for their involvement with their hearts, souls and financial resources. Coach Blakeney has also taken care of business on the field, and we look forward to watching it grow even more in the years to come."

Blakeney, about to begin his 12th season, is already the school’s all-time winningest coach with a 98-34-1 record and will become the longest-serving TSU coach on Aug. 31 when the Trojans visit Nebraska in the 2002 season opener.

"It’s exciting," Blakeney said. "To watch this program grow from Division II, to Division I-AA, to Division I-A has been rewarding. There have been so many folks along the way who have offered their support and energy to the cause. Now that we have finally arrived, the real work begins."