NCAA approves University of Mary’s year-round campus plan

BISMARCK — The NCAA on Thursday approved the University of Mary’s Year-Round Campus initiative, allowing Mary student-athletes the option of completing their degrees much faster without jeopardizing their athletic eligibility.

The decision is the first of its kind for the NCAA, the University of Mary stated in a news release on Aug. 24. Previously, a full-time summer student would have it count against their 10-semester limit.

“The Academic Requirements Committee determined that a student-athlete would not use a semester while enrolled as a full-time student during the summer term,” stated the NCAA letter to the University of Mary. “A student-athlete would only use a term while enrolled as a full-time student during the fall or spring term.”

The Year-Round Campus initiative will give students the option of completing their degree in 2.6 years or earning their master’s degree in four years.

The University of Mary is a member of the Division II Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

“At one point, one of the NCAA staff members stated, ‘We haven’t seen anything like this before, but having seen it, we’re confident we’ll see many similar programs spring up in the future,'” Michael McMahon, vice president for enrollment management at Mary, said in the release.

Because this new ruling goes into effect immediately, athletic director Dale Lennon said he foresees some of Mary’s current underclassmen, who have the most eligibility remaining, taking advantage of the opportunity. But he believes the biggest impact will come from future incoming students who enroll at Mary this year and the years to come.

The school drafted and submitted the letter for review to the NCAA in January.

“A student-athlete could quite possibly leave the University of Mary with their eligibility used up with both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in hand,” said Jeremy Christoffels, former Mary assistant athletic director for compliance. He drafted the letter of review and now works for the NSIC. “What this does is truly provide every student on campus the ability to challenge themselves academically and take advantage of the University of Mary’s innovation.”