The National Collegiate Athletic Association has granted Pennsylvania College of Technology provisional membership in Division III, the largest NCAA division both in number of participants and participating schools.
The announcement comes a year after Penn College was approved for exploratory membership status in Division III for 2013-14. The five-year membership process features one exploratory year of membership and four years of provisional/reclassifying membership.
“We are delighted the NCAA has approved us for provisional membership in Division III,” said Penn College President Davie Jane Gilmour. “The addition of NCAA athletics enhances the overall college experience for our students, supplementing a growing slate of social and co-curricular offerings. While this milestone – which arrives during our centennial year – should have a positive impact on student recruitment, it also benefits academics, which remains the primary focus for Division III student-athletes.”
More than 170,000 student-athletes at nearly 450 institutions comprise Division III. The division minimizes conflicts between athletics and academics through shorter practice and playing seasons and through regional competition, which reduces time away from studies.
“This is a historic day for Penn College and Wildcat Athletics,” said Scott E. Kennell, director of athletics. “We’ve worked vigorously over the past year to make this next phase a reality for our programs. We’ve done our research and understand the commitment it will take to be an NCAA member. We know there is still considerable work to be done, but we are excited to continue this journey.”
During the four-year provisional membership process, the NCAA conducts on-campus visits and requires periodic reporting to monitor progress toward full membership.
“We believe this is a great fit for Penn College, “Kennell added. “From the feedback we have received from the NCAA, we know our institution is well on its way to meeting the requirements and standards it takes to be at this level.”
For 2014-15, Penn College athletic teams will compete in the North Eastern Athletic Conference. Established in 2004, the NEAC, www.neacsports.com, includes 14 member schools and four associates from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., competing in nine men’s sports and eight women’s.
Penn College athletic teams that will compete in the NEAC in 2014-15 are baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross-country, golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, and women’s volleyball. As part of the NCAA Division III membership process, Penn College is hiring three full-time head coaches for its baseball, and men’s and women’s soccer teams. The college plans to add three more full-time coaches over the next two seasons.
“Soon, Williamsport will be known not only as a ‘college town’ but as the home – along with the Lycoming College Warriors – of two nationally recognized NCAA athletics programs,” said Elliott Strickland, chief student affairs officer. “We have already begun to see the positive impact of NCAA Division III affiliation on recruitment, with student-athletes enrolling from states such as Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Ohio and Iowa, in addition to Pennsylvania. The college community has shown great support for athletic events like our Centennial Tip Off for the Wildcat basketball teams and many others. The allure of NCAA Division III athletic competition is a great addition to campus life at Penn College.”
A special mission affiliate of Penn State since 1989, Penn College resurrected intercollegiate athletics in 1992. The college fields 12 varsity athletics teams that currently compete in the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference. The college began competing in the PSUAC in 2004 and in the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association in 2008.
The Penn College Wildcats have won the PSUAC Chancellor’s Cup five consecutive years and have placed in the top seven of the USCAA Director’s Cup each year of membership. Both awards are given to the most successful all-around athletic program.
Since 2004, Penn College Athletics’ accomplishments include 35 conference championships. Since 2008, the Wildcats have had 29 national tournament appearances, 49 (26 in the PSUAC) coaches of the year, 142 all-conference selections and 389 PSUAC All-Academic selections.
The Penn College varsity athletic teams are:
-- Men’s and Women’s Basketball
-- Men’s and Women’s Cross-Country
-- Men’s and Women’s Soccer
-- Men’s and Women’s Tennis
-- Women’s Volleyball
For more about Penn College Athletics, visit www.pct.edu/athletics.