Finnegan: D-I Independent Status Was Not Indefinite

Published 4:06 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2012

FARMVILLE – For many years when people would ask Longwood officials how long the school was prepared to keep playing as a Division I Independent, the answer was always “as long as it takes to find a league.”

It turned out to be true, but LU's days as an Independent at the Division I level may have had a shelf life.

“My thought was that it was not indefinite,” said LU President Brig. Gen. Patrick Finnegan. “We were going to take our best shot, and if another two or three years, we were unsuccessful [at finding a conference], we were going to have to look at where the program would be going.

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Longwood moved from Division II to Division I in part because of a lack of Division II institutions close by. The new look may have been deciding whether or not to move to non-scholarship Division III.

“We were going to have to look at all possibilities,” said Finnegan. “But the first priority was always to get into a Division I conference. It's difficult to be an independent in Division I, and after another year or two, we were going to have to reevaluate.”

Not anymore. Longwood's move into the Big South establishes the school as a Division I institution for the long haul.

“Starting in the summer, I will be involved with the CEOs in meetings, and we will look at how to be fully integrated into the conference as quickly as possible. We're going to do our best to get completely into the schedules for all of our sports, but existing contracts may prevent that for every sport. We'll have to look at that, but the year after, we will be fully integrated across the board.”