After dominating at the Division III level of the National Junior College Athletic Association’s competition, the Tyler Junior College Apache baseball team will be moving up to Division I.


“I think our program is well prepared to make this transition,” Athletic Director Kevin Vest said. “We have consistently fielded teams that have had tremendous talent.”


Among other things, this change affects scholarships for student athletes. According to the NJCAA, at the Division III level “colleges are not permitted to offer any athletic scholarships. While at the Division I level colleges may grant full athletic scholarships (tuition, books, fees, room and board), up to $250 in course required supplies, and transportation costs one time per academic year to and from the college by direct route. Each sport has limits on the number of scholarships that can be granted.” TJC completely skipped Division II competition, meaning it can offer more money in scholarships and will face tougher competition faster.


“Last year, we were scheduled into the Region XIV Conference as a COVID consideration. We finished second in the Eastern Division,” Vest said. “Coach Wren has always operated his program as Division I program in virtually every sense except the scholarships.”

Side view of the baseball field


The TJC baseball program has won six championships in Division III play while being the runner-up twice. Four of those titles were won in a run from 2014 to 2018. However, the opponent’s skill level will be much higher as compared to Division I and II, but a move to Division II for the Apaches was improbable.


“Division II was not really an option because of the makeup of Region XIV and Texas junior college baseball,” Vest said. “We were previously one of two Division III schools in our region, and there are no Division II baseball programs in the State of Texas. Therefore, in an effort to align with other baseball playing schools in our region and the state, Division I was the right place for us to be.”


This move will take place immediately with TJC’s spring schedule being postponed to make the proper changes.
“I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to lead this program into this new era,” said baseball head coach Doug Wren. “Our program has been extremely blessed since making the move to Division III back in 2003, but we are extremely excited about the new opportunities ahead as we return to Division I status.”

This move will take place immediately with TJC’s spring schedule being postponed to make the proper changes.
“I’m beyond grateful for the opportunity to lead this program into this new era,” said baseball Head Coach Doug Wren. “Our program has been extremely blessed since making the move to Division III back in 2003, but we are extremely excited about the new opportunities ahead as we return to Division I status.”


Dr. Jon Groth is the former baseball coach and currently works as the school’s broadcaster for the webcasts of the game. He brought the program back in 1992, after it had existed for about half a decade in the 60s and 70s. He was head coach until 2009 when Wren took over. During Groth’s tenure, the TJC Apaches moved to Division III.
“When I was hired in 1992,” Groth stated. “TJC baseball was part of the NJCAA Region 14-East Zone, fully Division I status.” One of the aforementioned Division III championships was won under Groth.


TJC Baseball will take place in spring 2022 with the schedule currently pending.