Step ahead for Daemen athletics

July 17, 2013 Updated Jul 17, 2013 at 7:53 AM EDT

By Dan Miner, Reporter- Business First

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Step ahead for Daemen athletics

July 17, 2013 Updated Jul 17, 2013 at 7:53 AM EDT

Daemen College has cleared an important hurdle in its mission to become a full-time, Division II member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

The college has been approved for "Candidacy Year Two," which it hopes will pave the way for provisional membership in 2014-15 and full-time membership in 2015-16.

"This is a great honor for Daemen College and an indication that we are rapidly rising to new levels of excellence," said College President Dr. Gary Olson. "We look forward to achieving full membership and competing nationally in Division II."

The college has made some major changes since its initial application and acceptance into the NCAA in 2012. It has hired a full-time athletic director, William Morris, increased its number of full-time athletics employees from 3 to 11 and purchased a nearby former YMCA building to accommodate its indoor sports.

Morris has said the college would someday like its own outdoor athletic fields, though it currently plays at nearby Amherst High School.

Daemen was previously a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), which offers some similarities to NCAA Division II, including the ability to offer scholarships.

But Morris has said the college will need improve its programs overall to consistently thrive amidst heightened competition. Daemen also recently established the Wildcat Club, a fundraising arm, and expects to institute a much more aggressive system of outreach to alumni.