A few weeks ago, the athletics department was working hard getting ready for the NCAA to come in and see where the department was at on the path to becoming full Division I athletics.

The NCAA gives out three grades for the evaluations: fail, pass or pass with exceptions.

Utah Valley passed and impressed.

“They said this was the best school they’ve seen,” said Jared Sumsion, executive director of the wolverine club.

Passing with exceptions is the most likely scenario for schools making the transition to D-I athletics, usually from Division II or III; but Utah Valley, jumping from junior college to D-I, passed without having to worry about exceptions.

“One athletic director I talked to making the transition said their school had seven exceptions to do before overcoming the provisional status,” Director of Athletics Michael Jacobsen said. “We thought there would be some things for us, but they were very impressed.”

Utah Valley’s provisional status officially ends after the 2008-09 seasons. The school will be participating fully at the D-I level after that, which level includes opportunities for postseason play. 

Passing the NCAA evaluation also means Utah Valley is more viable to a conference, seen as the next hurdle for the department.

“We’re closer now than we were four years ago,” Jacobsen said.

But Utah Valley is still waiting for some shake-ups in conferences before anything major happens. And the Western Athletic Conference has shown the most interest as of late. It’s also the conference men’s basketball that coach Dick Hunsaker has talked about being the best option for the school to get into.

With the cross country teams, the women’s soccer team and the women’s volleyball teams all winning their respective championships, Utah Valley athletics is already competing at a high level.

The NCAA committee in charge of examining Utah Valley looked at the athletics department but also wanted to find out about the support athletics has from administrators and faculty.
 All went well on those fronts also.

Athletics continues to grow as well with the plan for tennis to become a sanctioned sport — and football is still on the plate, but with uncertainty.