Rock Valley College athletics gets approval to move up to NJCAA Division II

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 12:22 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Rock Valley College has been the gold standard in Division III junior college sports over the past decade. The Golden Eagles now look to spread their wings and take that winning culture to the next level.

“There are going to be some that are happy that we’re leaving, especially on the softball side of things.”

The RVC Board of Trustees approved the move to the junior college Division II level at Tuesday’s board meeting.

“It’s great. To see that they have our backs,” explained Darryl Watkins, RVC women’s basketball head coach. “They actually want to see us progress as well.”

Since 2011, RVC has won 16 DIII National Championships across six sports, most notably in softball.

”It’s awesome. It’s been in the works for a long time,” said former Kirstin Fudge, a two-time softball national champion and 2021 grad. “I think especially for softball. We have seven championships in a row. I think it’s time for RVC to move up to that level.”

Not only will it be a step up in competition, but it gives Rock Valley a chance to give recruits tuition scholarships. In Division II, colleges may grant athletic scholarships, but those are limited to tuition, books, fees and up to $250 in course required supplies. Each sport has limits on the number of scholarships that can be granted.

“Being in the junior college scene, you’re always recruiting to get better,” said Watkins. “You’re always recruiting to be able to push through to that next level no matter what it is. Whether it was on the Division III side, DII, whatever it is, we’re always competing to get the best student athletes to come here.”

Fudge won’t be around to see it happen, but knows it’s the right move for her alma mater.

“It’s going to be a good thing for RVC in general and the community. I know I’ll always be an RVC Golden Eagle. So, I’m excited to see this transition and I’m excited for my past teammates to be able to have this opportunity.”

The NJCAA still has to approve the move but that will likely happen in the next week or so. The Board of Trustees also approved the return of golf next fall.

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