Largest Latter-day Saint Athletics Program Sweeps Largest DIII Athletic Conference
During the 2021–22 academic year, more than 500 student-athletes contributed to a historic athletics season for Southern Virginia University—an independent, private, four-year college aligned with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its principles and values.
Competing in the USA South, NCAA DIII’s largest athletics conference, the Knights captured 11 conference championships during the 2021-22 season en route to sweeping all three end-of-season conference cups: the President’s Cup, Men’s Cup, and Women’s Cup.
The USA South awards its cups to the conference’s top performing school based on a cumulative point system accrued throughout the year. Southern Virginia University is the first school to sweep all three cups—President’s, Men’s, and Women’s—since 2012-13.
“I’m very proud of the persistent discipline and effort that led to this unprecedented success,” said Deidra Dryden, vice president and director of athletics at Southern Virginia University. “I’m grateful for the dedication and hard work of all of our coaches and student-athletes.”
In addition to sweeping all three conference cups, Southern Virginia was also awarded the 2021-22 Sportsmanship Trophy—an honor voted on by fellow members of the USA South.
“Student-athletes from other universities vote on the Sportsmanship Award, and that’s why it’s such an honor,” said Dryden. “It’s a direct reflection of how our student-athletes presented themselves and acted during their competitions, which I think is one of the most important qualities to have as a Knight at Southern Virginia University.”
The Knights’ 11 conference championships included team titles in men’s lacrosse, women’s basketball and volleyball, and men’s and women’s swimming. Southern Virginia’s most successful programs during the 2021-22 season, men’s and women’s cross country and track and field, combined for six individual and team championships. Winning 11 conference titles marks a new record for the University, which will be difficult to surpass.
“We’ve shown that student-athletes can come to Southern Virginia University and consistently compete for a conference championship and a bid to the NCAA National Tournament,” said Sports Information Director Tony Good. “That is a very rare opportunity in college athletics.”
In addition to 11 team championships, dozens of Knights also garnered individual honors during the 2021-22 season, including 37 USA South All-Conference selections, 14 VaSID All-State selections, eight USA South Athletes of the Year, three USA South Coaches of the Year, and four NCAA All-Americans. For earning at least a 3.30 GPA, 197 Knights earned USA South All-Academic honors. A total of 75 Knights finished with at least a 3.90 GPA, which earned them USA South All-Academic honors with distinction.
“We absolutely prioritize academics for student-athletes at Southern Virginia University,” said Dryden. “Our first and foremost goal as coaches is to help every student-athlete earn their degree and graduate in a timely manner. These honors show we’re succeeding in our efforts!”
About Southern Virginia University
Southern Virginia University is a private, self-reliant, residential university voluntarily aligned with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its principles and values. The University’s mission is to gather faithful Latter-day Saints and like-minded students, lift them in intellect, character, and spirituality, and launch them into successful lives and careers.
More than half of Southern Virginia’s nearly 1200 students compete on one or more of the University’s 26 athletics teams. With more than 500 student-athletes—9-in-10 of which are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—Southern Virginia University has more Latter-day Saint student-athletes competing in the NCAA than any other school in the country.
With a Code of Conduct based on the teachings and standards of the Church, the largest CES Institute of Religion in the Eastern United States, and the first Young Single Adult Stake formed outside of Utah and Idaho, Southern Virginia University’s faith-supportive campus strives to help students develop spiritually, as well as intellectually and personally.
“We want to create an athletics and team culture where faith can thrive,” said Dryden. “In addition to improving athletically and academically, we also want our student-athletes to grow and develop spiritually. We want to keep Christ at the center of everything we do!”
About the USA South
Southern Virginia University joined the USA South Athletic Conference—one of the oldest and most prestigious Division III conferences in the nation—in 2021. At that time, the USA South had 19 member schools—many of which are small, faith-based, private schools like Southern Virginia University.
“We’re super grateful to be part of a very competitive conference that also respects our beliefs and values—including our commitment not to compete on Sundays,” said Dryden. “The USA South is a great home for our athletics program and we’re grateful to be a part of it.”
The USA South sponsors championships in men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, baseball, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s outdoor track & field, and men’s and women’s lacrosse.
About Division III
Division III is the largest division in the NCAA. The DIII Philosophy Statement places “the highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience.”
“One of the key philosophies of Division III is that your emphasis on your athletic program should be on the participant,” said Dryden. “DIII asks us to focus on student-athletes and their entire educational experience, which fits perfectly with our University and its mission.”