Big changes are happening for Kentucky Christian University athletics.
After welcoming in five new coaches last season, and re-instituting cross country as a full-time program, Kentucky Christian is also making the transition to competing in the NAIA postseason and are now offering athletic scholarships.
“This is such a huge step forward for Kentucky Christian athletics. We are excited to see where this opportunity takes us,” said Bruce Dixon, associate Athletic Director and Sports Information Director at KCU.
Although KCU has always competed against local NAIA schools such as University of Cumberlands, Shawnee State, Asbury, Alice Lloyd, and Georgetown, they have primarily competed in National Christian College Athletic Association Division II during the postseason, with the exception of a few sports.
The NCCAA division II cannot provide athletic scholarship so part of the move to NAIA has been focused around providing their students athletes with the opportunity to receive athletic scholarship.
By providing students with athletic scholarship, KCU hopes to make if possible for students who couldn’t afford to attend a private university to attend KCU.
This opportunity will also allow coaches to broaden their recruiting efforts.
“It is easier to grow when you have something to offer,” said Coach Chuck Wentz, first year head coach of Men’s and Women’s Cross Country.
The basketball coaches seem to agree with Coach Wentz that this opportunity has opened a lot of doors by making their school more appealing to athletes.
“We can start recruiting a lot more athletes that might not have been looking at KCU in the first place. I don’t want to stay that were weren’t competitive but it will definitely help us to build our program,” said Akeem Scott, second year head coach of men’s basketball.
The men’s basketball program and the men’s soccer program are the only two programs that will remain in the NCCAA for one more year. Both programs will join the NAIA in the 2019-2020 season.
The coaches are already seeing the effect.
Head coach of the women’s basketball program, Lisa Conn was able to boost her numbers to full roster after being able to offer some scholarship to some late commits.
“Being able to offer athletic scholarships will definitely increase the interest in KCU. Before we had to wait for FAFSA and academic scholarships to go through before we could offer anything. Being able to go to a game and giving an athlete an offer will definitely help get some earlier signings and to assure a full roster for the following year,” said Conn.
Despite competing in the NAIA, KCU hopes to remain their relationship with the NCCAA.
“Being part of the NCCAA is fundamental to our program and mission as a Christian college,” said Dixon.
Dixon said that the NAIA and the NCCAA have always had a good relationship. It will allow the school to still stay in contact with its NCCAA roots during this transition.