Published: Aug 11, 2011 6:10 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 11, 2011 10:59 PM EDT

ESTERO, Fla.- It is a distinction more than five years in the making. Florida Gulf Coast university officials learned Thursday afternoon that the university is now officially an NCAA Division 1 school.

Ken Kavenaugh, the Director of Athletics at the university says this is a great day for F.G.C.U. Even though the bump to Division 1 was expected, it's still pretty exciting.

"It's been my dream ever since I was little to come out and play Division 1," Kathleen Hunter, a senior at FGCU, said.

Just after 1 p.m. on Thursday, Kavanaugh got an email from the NCAA, an invitation to an elite membership: Division 1 active status.

"It's the end of a long process that's been going on in essence for four years in regards to our transition classification," Kavenaugh said.

F.G.C.U. had been listed as a Division 2 school, but many students who wanted to one day go to the NCAA tournament, enrolled here anyway saying they had faith the school would make the grade.

"Getting out of the reclassifying stage, it's more huge for them, they've been working on it for four years but its huge for me because it means we can take a run at a title and it will be a great experience," Kavenaugh said.

Students also look forward to seeing the university vy for some of the best up and coming players.

Staff tells WINK News this will make a big difference for the university. Getting national exposure may help boost enrollment across the board.