New report looks at if USI is ready for Division I

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EVANSVILLE, IND (WEHT) – A detailed report is out on the University of Southern Indiana’s possible jump to Division I Athletics, but the study stops short of making a recommendation.

The report says USI is ready to make the jump academically, and the school’s athletic performance in recent years also shows the program is prepared to take the next step. The report says some red flag areas include the school’s ability to recruit a higher level of athlete to successfully compete in a Division I program, plans to market the program on a Division I level and plans to protect the student-athletes’ well being on a Division I level.

“Looking at the potential readiness for USI providing us with a rubric and an understanding from the NCAA and what that could potentially look like,” USI President Dr. Ronald Rochon said. “The trustees have to discern now. They will look at all that data, peppering me with more questions of course and come to a conclusion.

At least one student we spoke to believes making the move to Division I would help more than just the athletic department.

“Moving to Division I could help with recruitment and getting more students with USI,” said Kamran Ahmod I know post-COVID USI has struggled with recruitment, so with more eyes and more exposure that I think that D-I could bring I think the on-campus experience could become a lot better.”

According to the report released by the university, the athletic budget would have to be almost doubled, with much of that money come from an increase in student fees.

“I think as long as they’re not too much, the benefits of the student fees could easily be offset by what Division I brings.”

President Rochon believes the in-depth look helps the university figure out where they currently are and how the future could look.

“It’s been very revealing about who we are as an institution,” said President Rochon, “so I’m excited about what we’re learning about USI.

The school also commissioned a survey on whether students, alumni, and other stakeholders support the idea.  About 39% of the people who responded say they support the idea. 49% oppose it, while about 12 percent are undecided. The survey shows the idea has the least support among the faculty with only 22% saying the move is a good idea.  The idea gets the biggest thumbs up from students and student-athletes with about 45 percent in each category supporting it. The USI Board of Trustees plans to vote on the idea next month. A copy of the full report can be found here.

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