The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown athletics program took a giant leap forward today as the school accepted an invitation to join the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). The announcement was made at a news conference held today on the Pitt-Johnstown campus. Pitt-Johnstown will begin competition in the PSAC during the 2013-2014 athletic season. Seton Hill University also accepted an invitation to join the PSAC today, bringing the PSAC’s total membership to 18 schools.
The PSAC is the largest one-state conference in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), with all of its full-time members located within Pennsylvania. It is also the largest conference in NCAA Division II. This marks just the second time in the 61-year history of the PSAC that the conference has expanded its full-time membership. The league’s current full-time members are Bloomsburg, California, Cheyney, Clarion, East Stroudsburg, Edinboro, Gannon, Indiana, Kutztown, Lock Haven, Mansfield, Mercyhurst, Millersville, Shippensburg, Slippery Rock and West Chester.
In accepting the invitation, Pitt-Johnstown President Jem Spectar said, “We are delighted to have been invited and to accept the invitation to join the PSAC and its many fine member schools across the Commonwealth. We look forward to the opportunities that this move will create for our outstanding student-athletes to compete against teams that are also well known in our region. I can already see the spirited competition that will develop with our neighbors including IUP, Clarion, Lock Haven, and California. We look forward to welcoming many new visitors to our region and our campus, and showcasing our first-class athletic and academic facilities."
“Our move to the PSAC marks an exciting new chapter for our strong athletics program, which is built upon a rich legacy of athletics excellence that started more than 60 years ago,” Spectar continued. “We are excited for our student-athletes to have the opportunity to compete in one of the most respected conferences in the country. Ladies and gentlemen, we came to play!”
“Given the recent announcement of several schools planning to leave the WVIAC after this year, we felt the time was right to consider Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill as full-time members of the PSAC,” said PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray. “Our Board of Directors was unanimous in its support for adding both schools. This addition will strengthen us as a conference and within the region. It will open up more scheduling and competition opportunities while staying within the NCAA Division II regional-based competition model. We are excited to move forward with Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill as members beginning next year.”
Pitt-Johnstown Director of Athletics and Head Wrestling Coach Pat Pecora echoed Dr. Spectar’s comments, “In today’s collegiate athletics, proper conference alignment is critical. Our move to join the PSAC is a huge step in the progression of Pitt-Johnstown athletics.”
Pitt-Johnstown joined the 15-member West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) in 2007. In June of this year, nine football-playing members of the WVIAC announced they would be leaving the league to form their own conference. This created an opportunity for Pitt-Johnstown to pursue other conference options.
Dr. Spectar commented, “We are grateful to the WVIAC for welcoming us into their conference and are proud to have been members for the past five years. We are looking forward to another season of play as a WVIAC member.”
“Adding Seton Hill and Pitt-Johnstown makes sense for us as a conference on so many different levels,” said Dr. David L. Soltz, President of Bloomsburg University and chair of the PSAC Board of Directors. “Both are outstanding academic institutions and their history of success will fit in nicely with our current philosophies of balancing academics and athletics. The schools’ locations will also enable us to ensure more conference competition with less travel and less missed class time. This is a win-win situation for both the schools and the conference.”
A special frequently asked questions portion has been added to the Pitt-Johnstown Athletics Department web page. The FAQ can be viewed at: www.pitt-Johnstown.pitt.edu/PSAC_FAQ.
Celebrating its 85th anniversary this year, Pitt-Johnstown is located in the Laurel Highlands of Western Pennsylvania and is the first and largest regional campus of the University of Pittsburgh. The University offers a high-quality educational experience in a supportive living-learning environment designed to prepare students for the real world of the 21st century. Pitt-Johnstown is recognized by the Princeton Review as a “Best Northeastern College,” by G.I. Jobs as a “Military Friendly School,” and Pennsylvania Business Central as a "Top 100 Organization" for 2011. Additionally, Pitt-Johnstown has been named to the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.
- All of the PSAC’s full-time members will be located within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
- The Middle Atlantic Conferences in Division III currently have 18 members, however they are divided into two separate conferences that compete for two automatic NCAA bids in most sports, making them effectively two separate conferences under a single conference office umbrella. The PSAC will be the largest conference in the NCAA that competes for a single NCAA automatic berth in most sports.
About the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference
Originating in 1951 to administer and promote men’s athletics, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference has evolved into one of the NCAA’s most heralded intercollegiate conferences. The first major step came in 1977, when based on a growing interest, the league reorganized to provide a structure for its women’s programs. Only three years later, lacking a standard competitive division, league voted to reclassify the entire conference to NCAA Division II.
The membership currently consists of 16 full-time institutions and the associate members Seton Hill University and Long Island University - Post. All of the league’s full-time members are located within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which makes the PSAC the largest one-state conference in the NCAA. The league has also grown to share the distinctions as: The largest conference in Division II, the largest football-playing conference in the NCAA, and, with 23, the conference that sponsors the most championships at the Division II level.
Highly competitive on a regional and national level, PSAC schools annually combine to send nearly one-third of its teams into NCAA postseason play. Ultimately, the membership’s success has yielded 45 NCAA team and 254 individual title winners. While proud of its athletic accomplishments, the league also has evolved into one of Division II’s finest from an academic standpoint. Today, over one-third of the PSAC’s estimated 6,300 participants are honored each year as “Scholar-Athletes” for maintaining a grade-point average of 3.25 or better - a total that has tripled since PSAC Scholar-Athletes were first recognized in the mid-1990s.
Although all 16 current institutions are members of Division II, five league schools also compete at the Division I level in select sports. PSAC schools enroll over 129,000 students and claim over 750,000 alumni, including 500,000 who reside in Pennsylvania. The PSAC is governed by the presidents of the 16 member institutions. It employs a commissioner, an associate and assistant commissioner, and a director of media relations at its headquarters in Lock Haven, Pa.