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YHC Achieves Candidacy for NCAA Division II Membership

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Media Contact: Denise Cook
(706) 379-5237,

Young Harris College Achieves Candidacy for NCAA Division II Membership

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Young Harris College President Cathy Cox announced today that YHC has been formally accepted as a candidate for membership in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) at the Division II level.   

“We are very excited to begin the formal process to full membership in NCAA at the Division II level, President Cox said. “Our athletic department has worked diligently in leading this endeavor, and this achievement is a significant milestone in our on-going transformation to a four-year college. We know that NCAA membership will attract many talented student-athletes to Young Harris College.”

“Today is a great day for YHC!” said Young Harris College Director of Athletics Randy Dunn. “I am very pleased that the NCAA membership committee considered YHC a worthy institution for provisional membership. Obtaining full membership will be a three-year process, and if everything goes well, YHC should receive full NCAA membership in 2014-2015.”

During the first provisional year, Young Harris College will bring itself completely in line with the policies and procedures of the NCAA and develop Division II schedules for its teams. Following the College’s first year as a candidate for membership, the NCAA’s membership committee will send representatives to campus to review and evaluate YHC’s progress, and will then make a recommendation to move Young Harris College to the next level of the membership process.

“The next step for Young Harris College is to immediately begin work to complete the process for membership in the Peach Belt Conference, which is one of the strongest and most prestigious Division II conferences in the country,” added Dunn, who successfully transitioned North Georgia College & State University to NCAA Division II and Peach Belt Conference membership prior to arriving at YHC in 2010. “Young Harris College will be the only private college in Georgia in the esteemed Peach Belt Conference.”

Current Peach Belt Conference members include Armstrong Atlantic State University, Augusta State University, Clayton State University, Columbus State University, Flagler College, Francis Marion University, Georgia College & State University, Georgia Southwestern State University, Lander University, University of Montevallo, North Georgia College & State University, the University of North Carolina—Pembroke and the University of South Carolina—Aiken.

“Many individuals worked long and hard to make this happen, but President Cox should be the person most recognized for her vision, commitment and support during this process,” Dunn said.

The announcement adds to the positive momentum building throughout campus over the past few years as the125-year-old institution returns to its roots as a four-year college.

Since earning its accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) in 2008 to grant bachelor’s degrees, Young Harris College has been adding baccalaureate majors and academic programs at a rapid pace. As of 2011, YHC now offers 13 baccalaureate majors—biology, business and public policy, communication studies, English, early childhood education, history, mathematics, middle grades education, music, music education, musical theatre, outdoor leadership and theatre—as well as a full array of minors and teacher certifications. The College will continue to roll out new academic programs annually.

In addition, Young Harris College has doubled the size of its faculty in just four years and hired additional staff to support the new academic programs and student amenities.

Last fall, Young Harris College broke enrollment records for the fourth consecutive year with more than 800 students on campus; then on May 7, the College conferred its first bachelor’s degrees in nearly a century to a class of 40 seniors.

Young Harris College is in an unprecedented building program to support its growth, having recently added a 200-bed, LEED Silver-certified residence hall that opened to industry acclaim in 2009, followed by the 57,000-square-foot, LEED-certified Recreation and Fitness Center that opened in 2010. Next month, YHC will open The Village, the newest student housing option for upperclassmen, which adds 148 beds configured as apartments within a residential “village” atmosphere. The next major facility constructed will be a new campus center that combines a student center, dining hall, banquet facility and library in a single, state-of-the-art 125,000-square-foot building.

During the 2010-2011 season, YHC competed as an independent school against other four-year institutions. Prior to that transition, Young Harris College’s athletic teams were among the finest in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). The Mountain Lions claimed the 2006 NJCAA national championship in women’s soccer, the same season head coach Kathy Brown was named national Coach of the Year. In 2007, head coach Rick Robinson led Young Harris College’s baseball team to the Junior College World Series.

In addition, Young Harris College student-athletes have gone on to earn individual acclaim. Six former YHC baseball players have made it to the Major League, with three currently playing: outfielder Nick Markakis of the Baltimore Orioles, right-handed pitcher Cory Gearrinof the Atlanta Braves and outfielder Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies. Markakis and Bryson Smith, a 2011 draft pick by the Cincinnati Reds, both earned the title of national junior college player of the year during their YHC careers. Many other former Mountain Lions have played professionally or have gone on to play at the highest collegiate levels in their respective sport.

Young Harris College currently sponsors 12 intercollegiate sports teams: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball and men’s and women’s tennis.

About Young Harris College
2011 marks the 125th anniversary for Young Harris College, a private, baccalaureate degree-granting college located in the beautiful mountains of north Georgia. Founded in 1886 and historically affiliated with The United Methodist Church, Young Harris College educates, inspires and empowers students through the highest quality liberal arts education. Long known for nurturing students during the first two years of college, Young Harris College received accreditation in 2008 to grant bachelor’s degrees. The College currently has approximately 800 students across four divisions—Fine Arts, Humanities, Mathematics and Science, and Social and Behavioral Science—and plans to increase enrollment to 1,200 over the next few years. The historic campus in Young Harris, Ga., is currently undergoing major campus improvements to accommodate the College’s growth, including recent completion of a 200-bed, LEED Silver-certified residence hall, Georgia’s first higher education facility north of Atlanta to achieve this certification, and a 57,000-square-foot, LEED-certified recreation center, the second higher educational recreation facility in Georgia to achieve this certification. For more information, visit