For the first time since adding softball and soccer teams in 2005, Jefferson College Viking Athletics will undergo an historic realignment of its sports program while adding four new teams, including the return of men’s basketball, beginning in the fall of 2023.
“This is an exciting time to be able to expand the rich tradition of Vikings Athletics,” said College President Dr. Dena McCaffrey. “The return of men’s basketball and the excitement of adding men’s and women’s cross country and competitive cheer will provide greater opportunities for local student and community involvement underscored by our high standards on and off the field.”
The move will allow Jefferson College to better compete in respective sports while providing the opportunity to recruit local players from within the College’s service district, increase enrollment and state funding, and strengthen community involvement/attendance.
The new sports teams will result in the potential of 48 new full-time students with estimated additional state funding of over $136,000.
Recommended by Athletics Director Bob Deutschman and approved by the Jefferson College Board of Trustees, the changes are being made in conjunction with the National Junior College Athletic Association’s (NJCAA) requirement that institutions make sport declarations every four years. The College was originally scheduled to declare its divisional commitment in the fall of 2020, but the window was postponed by the NJCAA until October 22, 2021 due to COVID-19. The new cycle will last from August 1, 2023 through July 31, 2027.
“I am thankful to President McCaffrey and the Board of Trustees for giving the Athletics Department an opportunity to add sports teams and continue the extraordinary tradition of Vikings Athletics,” said Deutschman. “I look forward along with our coaches and staff to fielding competitive Viking teams in the NJCAA that embody the longstanding excellence set forth by Jefferson College.”
Existing Jefferson College Viking teams and divisions include:
Men’s Baseball, Division I
Men’s Soccer, Division I
Women’s Basketball, Division I
Women’s Soccer, Division III
Women’s Softball, Division I
Women’s Volleyball, Division I
With the expansion of Viking sports teams, the College will add:
Men’s Basketball, Division II
Men’s Cross Country, Division III
Women’s Cross Country, Division III
Competitive Cheer, Division III
Existing teams that will be realigned are Women’s Basketball to Division II and Women’s Soccer to Division II. The remaining existing teams (Men’s Baseball, Men’s Soccer, Women’s Softball, and Women’s Volleyball) will retain their current NJCAA Division I status.
The connection between Jefferson College and area high schools is a main reason for the identification and expansion of the specific sports approved.
From the time men’s basketball was discontinued in the mid-1980s, due to budget and housing concerns, there has been a high level of interest in the region for its eventual return. Although the College has not fielded a men’s basketball team in that time, it regularly hosts regional high school basketball tournaments featuring players from nearly all of the surrounding schools, providing the College an opportunity to recruit among the area’s best players.
According to institutional success data for all of Jefferson College’s student athletes, the degree completion rate from 2014-2017 was 52.7 percent compared to 30.6 percent for all first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students attending the College. Similarly, the four-year average for completion and transfer was 83.5 percent for student athletes vs 45.4 percent for all first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students.