IUPUC submitting application to join NAIA competition

Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus student Abby Sallee walks past the Columbus Learning Center on her way to class in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2018. The learning center is shared by IUPUC and Ivy Tech. Mike Wolanin | The Republic

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The city of Columbus might soon be home to an NAIA program.

IUPUC plans to submit an application next week to become a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics beginning with the 2022-23 school year. Reinhold Hill, the school’s vice-chancellor and dean, said the plan to apply to the NAIA was in place prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’ve been talking about it for a few years,” Hill said. “The pandemic definitely put things on hold for us. It provides real opportunity to develop different connections to IUPUC that we’re not currently providing.”

In past years, IUPUC has fielded a club co-ed cross-country team, as well as a men’s basketball team. Hill said baseball, softball and men’s and women’s cross-country would be the first sports to go intercollegiate next school year, with men’s and women’s golf possibly to follow after that.

“We have a longstanding club sport in cross-country, so we’re interested in adding that to our intercollegiate competition,” Hill said. “There are some challenges with intercollegiate basketball in our area, including regulation-sized courts. But we also need large enough team sizes to help on the enrollment side and on the revenue side.”

For the complete story, see Wednesday’s Sports section.