The newest call to “play ball” will soon be heard for teams at the University of Houston-Victoria. UHV was recently approved for membership in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, effective immediately. At a press conference Tuesday, university administrators will announce plans to inaugurate the university’s first intercollegiate athletic program.
Baseball and softball teams will take to field in spring 2008, and pending approval, will compete as members of the Red River Athletic Conference, which includes Houston Baptist University, Huston-Tillotson University and Texas Wesleyan University.
“Athletics is a springboard for highlighting the academic and outreach programs we offer, the accomplishments of our students and faculty, and the quality of life we enjoy as Victorians to audiences outside this region,” said UHV President Tim Hudson.
“Without doubt, outstanding community support and the rich tradition of baseball and softball in this area encouraged our ambitions and helped us secure this approval.”
The city of Victoria has already offered its endorsement by providing the use of softball facilities and Riverside Stadium for games. Members of the Friends of Baseball have been working tirelessly to ensure the field complies with NAIA regulations and have also volunteered to assist in field preparation and run the concession stand.
“Victoria has always embraced baseball and this is a very positive development for the city, the university and our entire community,” said Victoria Mayor Will Armstrong.
UHV has also garnered support from local high schools through their cooperation in scheduling games, approximately 20 of which will be played in Victoria during each of the inaugural seasons.
“The economic impact of this program is great news for Victoria!” said Victoria Chamber of Commerce president Phyllis Hunt. “It is an enhancement of UHV’s offerings, a reason to attract new students to our school and it will be the source of additional income for the community. It’s a WIN, WIN, WIN for Victoria!”
“Students at UHV couldn’t be more excited about this news,” said UHV Student Senate president Danny Ochoa. “The suggestion to add sports has come up regularly in the Student Senate, and now it’s a reality. These games will provide a rallying point for all UHV students to come together in support of our university.”
The announcement is evidence of the maturation of the university as an institution of higher education according to Dr. Jeffrey Di Leo, who will serve as the faculty athletic representative. “The addition of athletics serves to compliment our goals of increasing enrollment and diversifying our student body,” said Di Leo. “Just as our course offerings have expanded to include UHV’s first nursing, economic development, and study-abroad programs, these activities will inevitably serve as a point of attracting new students to UHV and providing new opportunities for current students.”
Active membership in the NAIA is open to four-year colleges and universities, and upper-level, two-year institutions in the United States and Canada that award a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Active members must be nonprofit organizations and fully accredited by one of the six established regional accrediting bodies.
As a member of the association, UHV will participate in the NAIA’s Champions of Character program, which is designed to instill an understanding of character values in sport and provide practical tools for student-athletes, coaches and parents at all levels—from Little League to university—to use in modeling exemplary character traits.
“This represents a wonderful new day for UHV as it continues to emerge as a university of choice, not just convenience,” added Hudson.