WINTER PARK, Fla. – The Sunshine State Conference (SSC) has received official acceptance from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to become a provisional member of the conference beginning July 1, 2014.
"The Sunshine State Conference is excited that Embry-Riddle has accepted our conference’s offer of provisional membership," said SSC Commissioner Jay Jones. "Our presidents and athletic leadership believe that Embry-Riddle brings a great blend of academic and athletic success that fits perfectly within the SSC and NCAA Division II model. We look forward to working with Embry-Riddle through this membership transition and know that the institution will help strengthen our conference's proud legacy."
Embry-Riddle, currently a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), will also submit an application to the NCAA Division II Membership Committee. Concurrent to their three-year provisional membership period with the SSC, upon acceptance of their application by the NCAA, Embry-Riddle will serve a three-year provisional term before becoming a full member of NCAA Division II. Embry-Riddle’s provisional agreement with the SSC requires the institution to meet certain requirements before it can be eligible to compete for conference championships and become full non-conditional conference members. If all requirements are met, the Eagles will begin competing fully in the SSC during the 2017-18 athletic season.
"We are pleased to be invited to join the Sunshine State Conference." Embry-Riddle President Dr. John P. Johnson said. "With Embry-Riddle's strong history of academic excellence and record of significant achievement in athletics, we feel that the SSC would be a good fit for us. We are excited about the opportunity and new challenges inherent in joining the SSC and NCAA Division II membership."
The Eagles finished in the top 15 in the NAIA Director's Cup for 12-straight seasons, and has claimed 14 consecutive NAIA Sun Conference Commissioner's Cups. Embry-Riddle has also earned team NAIA national titles in men's basketball (2000) and men's tennis (2013). In addition, the Eagles have captured 91 Sun Conference regular-season crowns and 25 conference tournament titles in their 26 season of existence.
“This transition to NCAA Division II is the natural next step for our University as we continue to grow academically and athletically,” Embry-Riddle Director of Athletics Steve Ridder said. "This potential acceptance into the NCAA and the Sunshine State Conference aligns with where we are going as a university moving forward. The SSC's record for academic excellence, its numerous national titles, along with the league's commitment to the academics and NCAA's Life in the Balance program exemplifies Embry-Riddle's philosophy of developing the Student-Person-Player."
Located in Winter Park, the Sunshine State Conference is the only NCAA conference headquartered in the state of Florida. Its nine member institutions, all located within the state are: Barry University (Miami Shores), Eckerd College (St. Petersburg), Florida Southern College (Lakeland), Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne), Lynn University (Boca Raton), Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale), Rollins College (Winter Park), Saint Leo University (Saint Leo) and the University of Tampa.
The SSC sponsors 17 intercollegiate sports that compete in NCAA Division II. More than 2,000 student-athletes participate in men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball, softball, women’s rowing and men’s lacrosse. SSC schools have won 84 NCAA Division II National Championships, and the league is the top-rated academic conference in Division II.