Southern Wesleyan University can start the process towards the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II membership and join Conference Carolinas, NCAA officials announced September 17.

Southern Wesleyan was initially turned down for membership in July but after a lengthy appeal process has been granted approval to begin the track towards membership. Conference Carolinas has sponsored SWU’s membership application and appeal since January.

“This is a monumental day for Southern Wesleyan University,” said Athletics Director Chris Williams. “This has been a long process with a lot of ups and downs, but we couldn’t be happier with the outcome. God, once again, has shown his mercy and provision for Southern Wesleyan and we will continue to use this stage as a platform to honor him.”

Achieving full NCAA Division II membership typically takes three years, provided the athletic department successfully completes each phase of the membership process. Southern Wesleyan will spend two years in candidacy status and then one year as a provisional member of NCAA Division II before gaining full membership status. The earliest SWU can become a full member is the 2016-17 academic year.

SWU will remain a member of the NAIA and the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) for the 2013-14 seasons and will have access to SSAC and NAIA post-season championships. During the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years, Southern Wesleyan will play a full slate of NCAA Division II and Conference Carolinas regular season competition. The Warriors would not be eligible for NCAA or Conference Carolinas post-season competition until the 2016-17 seasons after full NCAA Division II membership has been attained. SWU will remain a member of the NCCAA and be eligible for post-season competition throughout the membership process.

Conference Carolinas consists of 10 full members including four in South Carolina. Current members are: Barton College (Wilson, N.C.), Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C.), Converse College (Spartanburg, S.C.), Erskine College (Due West, S.C.), King University (Bristol, Tenn.), Lees-McRae College (Banner Elk, N.C.), Limestone College (Gaffney, S.C.), Mount Olive College (Mount Olive, N.C.), North Greenville University (Tigerville, S.C.) and Pfeiffer University (Misenheimer, N.C.). Emmanuel College (Franklin Springs, Ga.) has also been accepted to NCAA Division II and Conference Carolinas and are on the same track as SWU.

Southern Wesleyan sponsors 15 intercollegiate varsity athletic programs that will make the transition to the NCAA Division II level.