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UDC seeks NCAA status
Firebirds want shot at post-season crowns

(Published April 8, 2002)

Staff Writer

The University of the District of Columbia Firebirds want to fly out of the independent ranks and join one of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II conferences.

The Firebirds' men's basketball team just completed one of the school's most successful campaigns and had no post-season rewards to chase after. UDC's basketball program, in the midst of a rebuilding program, finished the regular season 18-11.

Head Coach Mike McLeese said he believes that had the Firebirds been a member of a conference, they would have won a post-season tournament this year.

"If we can get into the Central Athletic Collegiate Conference, then we have a shot at winning that championship and earning the automatic bid into the Division II tournament," he said.

Until UDC can gain admittance into a conference, good teams will continue to pass into the school's history without the opportunity to win a championship.

McLeese took over the coaching duties at UDC three years ago and turned around a struggling basketball program. The team is now having a hard time scheduling games since becoming a competitive team, he said.

"If we were in a conference, then that would ease the hassle of scheduling," McLeese said. "The CACC has 12 teams that would have to play us every year. Then I would only have to look for about 15 opponents instead of trying to schedule 27 games."

The CACC requires a university to field at least eight athletic teams. The conference is planning to raise the bar to 10 teams in 2005. UDC currently meets the minimum and McLeese, who also serves as UDC's athletic director, said he is preparing to meet the raised standard by adding men's and women's swimming and diving to the schools athletic program.

"Adding these teams means we will need a larger budget for athletics. We will need more scholarships, and we'd be adding more coaches salaries," he said.

"But our president is very supportive of athletics and is willing to help us do what we have to in order to get into this conference," McLeese added.

After UDC submits an application for conference admission, the CACC has a one-year evaluation process before deciding whether or not the school may be admitted.

Copyright 2002, The Common Denominator