BLUFFTON S.C. (WSAV) – When Dr. Al Panu interviewed to be USC-Beaufort’s chancellor, athletic director Quin Monahan mentioned a move to Division II as one of the primary goals that he wanted Dr. Panu to work toward.

On Wednesday, Panu and Monahan finally announced they had accomplished that goal.

Beginning with the 2022-’23 season, USCB will compete in NCAA Division II in the Peach Belt Conference, which currently has 12 teams spread between North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina. Pending acceptance of their application, the Sand Sharks will be full DII members by 2025.

“This is a great moment for the Peach Belt and we are very pleased to welcome USCB to the conference,” said PBC Commissioner David Brunk. “This day has been a long time coming and we are very proud to be able to provide them a home in NCAA Division II.”

According to Monahan, USC-Beaufort’s promotion to the Peach Belt Conference came with the condition that the school add both men’s and women’s basketball. The Sand Sharks are currently looking to hire a coach for the 2022-’23 season with the intention of starting play the year after.

“We are proud that USCB is an institution positioned for tremendous growth,” Dr. Panu said. “A significant factor of this growth is development of curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular programming that keeps pace with best-in-class university experiences across the country. Joining the Peach Belt Conference and NCAA Division II is another step in this direction for our student athletes”

USCB currently competes in the NAIA’s Sun Conference, which they joined in 2007 after starting their athletic programs. They’ll continue to compete in the Sun Conference before joining the Peach Belt as a full financial partner in September of 2022.

The only USCB sports that will not be sponsored by the Peach Belt is men’s and women’s indoor track and field.