Back to Div. II: Winston-Salem State rejoins CIAA

Oct 2, 2009 - 6:14 PM CARY, N.C.(AP) -- With financial woes ending its bid to join Division I, Winston-Salem State is headed back to its old conference.

The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association's board of directors voted Friday to let the school back into the Division II league of historically black colleges and universities in time for the 2010-11 academic year.

"We are elated. There are no hard feelings on our part," said Jimmy Jenkins, president of the CIAA board. "We had an unanimous vote of the board, which was an indication that all board members are very excited to have them back."

Winston-Salem State left in 2004 with plans to move to the NCAA's top tier with an invitation to join the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. But the school faced financial difficulties, amassing losses of more than $6 million since, including $1.8 million in the fiscal year ending June 30.

Chancellor Donald Reaves projected the deficit would grow to $15 million by 2012. Winston-Salem State's board of trustees voted last month to stop its Division I efforts.

"Over the past two years, we have continued to be concerned that budgetary constraints would not allow us to successfully complete the transition," Reaves said.

The school will now have to reduce scholarships in football and basketball to meet Division II and CIAA criteria. The moves must be made before the Rams are eligible for CIAA championships

Winston-Salem State gives the conference 12 schools. The league is best known for its basketball tournament, which has drawn about 180,000 fans annually to Charlotte, N.C., for the games and numerous auxiliary events.

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