Lee athletic teams will play regular-season schedules in the Gulf South Conference, but will not be eligible for tournament competition in the GSC and NCAA Division II until the 2015-16 seasons.
Lee Athletic Director Larry Carpenter has many fond memories of NCCAA competition. He played on one of the university’s national championship teams (1968) and later coached the Flames to a national title in 1994.
“Lee was one of the founding members of the NCCAA when it was formed in 1968 and competed in it for more than 30 years,” said Carpenter after the university was officially accepted back into the membership. “We are excited to be part of the NCCAA during our two-year transition into NCAA DII and look forward to all that it has to offer,” he said.
“Lee University was an exemplary member of the NCCAA from 1968-2002 and (Lee President) Dr. Paul Conn has always been a supporter of the association,” said Dan Wood, executive director of the NCCAA. “We are excited to welcome them back as a full member during their transition from NAIA to NCAA II. Our goal will be to serve their coaches, student-athletes and campus during these years. We also trust that Lee will enjoy the “new NCCAA” that has focused its mission to use intercollegiate athletics to serve the Great Commission and that a long-term relationship would be in our collective best interest.”
Wood said the mission of the NCCAA has gone far beyond just winning a tournament. “Today, each of the 23 national championships and invitationals are required to hold a Christian Service Project during the championship event. CSPs are opportunities in which NCCAA student-athletes and coaches go out into a championship host’s community and serve others.
Some CSPs have included visiting children’s hospitals, serving the Salvation Army, Boy’s & Girl’s Clubs, Habitat for Humanity, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, reading to children in public schools, doing yard work around the community, writing soldiers overseas, working in food projects, visiting the elderly in nursing homes, and much more. Tens of thousands of hours have been given to communities across the nation through the NCCAA.”
Carpenter noted that “the NCCAA regional and national championships will be very competitive and their emphasis on outreach ministry goes right along with our institutional philosophy.”
Lee will be a member of the strong Mid-East Region and will be joined by Bluefield, Campbellsville, Covenant, Hiwassee, Mid-Continent, Mississippi College, old rival Tennessee Temple, Trevecca Nazarene, Union University and Victory University in its quest for championship honors.
Three former SSAC rivals could also be in the national hunt, including Emmanuel, Shorter and Southern Wesleyan University. The NCCAA has solid powers in other regions as well. Houghton, Malone, Mount Vernon, Roberts Wesleyan, Cedarville, Grace, Taylor, Indiana Wesleyan and Spring Arbor represent the East and Mid-West regions, while Azusa, Fresno Pacific, The Master’s and Point Loma are listed as West members.