Huge Step For Warren Wilson Athletics


Devin Gildner

Senior Brent Davis practicing free throws in DeVries Gymnasium.

Known for the philosophy of approaching education through the triad of academics, work and community engagement, but less known for its athletics program, Warren Wilson College (WWC) recently began the process of joining the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. Joni Williamson, Director of Athletics and Adventure Sports at WWC since 2018, started this change by announcing a transition from the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA). 

On March 13, 2019, the NCAA approved the application from Warren Wilson College for exploratory membership in NCAA DIII. The membership process would provide WWC student-athletes with additional sports and more opportunities. 

By moving to the NCAA, the athletics program still wants to be mindful of what makes WWC unique. Community and service fulfill a large part of the culture at WWC, and the transition to NCAA should integrate with that culture. 

“We want to provide a well-rounded experience and stay in touch with the community,” Williamson said. 

According to Williamson, the school has overcome several hurdles already, not least of which was the addition of two sports. In the spring, WWC added men’s and women’s tennis, and this fall lacrosse took its place in the repertoire of sports.

“We did a survey just to gauge what (sports) folks were interested in,” said Williamson.

But that wasn’t the only consideration. With the existing infrastructure and the new renovations to the soccer fields, including a new scoreboard and new grass, Williamson said that lacrosse made a lot of sense. By adding men and women’s lacrosse to the mix, the ’20-21 lacrosse season will be historic for WWC athletics. 

The introduction of additional sports not only offers more opportunities for current student-athletes but also provides interest and appeal to prospective student-athletes. Brent Davis, a senior basketball player at WWC, showed excitement to see this change. 

“Every kid growing up always hears ‘NCAA,’” Davis said. “[Warren Wilson is] definitely going to be the place to be within the next 3-5 years.” 

Student-athletes could see more chances to be noticed by wider audiences and professional teams as part of the NCAA than they currently enjoy with the USCAA. With so many prospective student-athletes watching the NCAA tournament and wanting to become NCAA athletes, it should improve recruitment for WWC athletics, Davis said. 

Proud of the work and progress shown by WWC, Davis will unfortunately graduate before the official transition to a new league. But, if all goes according to plan, WWC will officially be a NCAA DIII school by the fall of 2024.