Misericordia has accepted an invitation to join the Middle Atlantic Corporation (MAC) Freedom Conference, Dr. Michael MacDowell, Misericordia president, has announced.
The change will become official with the beginning with the 2008-009 school year and will end Misericordia’s affiliation with the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference after 16 years.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Misericordia and our athletics program,” said MacDowell. “Our campus lies in the heart of MAC country and we are proud to be a part of a conference that has been a staple in the region for more than 50 years.”
The move offers Misericordia logistical advantages such as reduced travel time and fewer missed classes for student-athletes. “Following the Division III model, Misericordia takes great pride in allowing our student-athletes the opportunity to excel academically and athletically and they do so,” said MacDowell. “As many of our PAC opponents require two-hour road trips, moving to the MAC provides our student-athletes with an even better opportunity to maximize their potential in both arenas.”
The transition also allows the Cougars to take advantage of natural geographical rivalries, especially against local foes King’s College and Wilkes University. “From a competitive standpoint, the move makes a great deal of sense,” said MacDowell. “With the departure of the University of Scranton, Misericordia is a logical fit to replace Scranton in the three-way local rivalry. I’d like to my thank my colleagues, the presidents of the Freedom Conference institutions, particularly Fr. Tom O’Hara of King’s and Tim Gilmour of Wilkes, for their vote of confidence in Misericordia.”
In addition, Misericordia has regularly competed against numerous MAC institutions over the last 15 years. “Our schedules have included many MAC opponents since we began Division III competition,” said Misericordia Director of Athletics David Martin. “In many ways, the move will appear seamless to our student-athletes and fans.”
Another highlight is the fact that Misericordia’s swimming and track & field teams will finally have a place to call home after competing as independents throughout their history. “Our swimming and track & field teams have been searching for a conference for many years,” said Martin. “We’re thrilled that this realignment will provide them with an opportunity to compete for a conference championship.”
According to MacDowell and Martin, the only downside to the move is bringing an end to Misericordia’s tenure in the PAC. Misericordia was a charter member of the PAC in 1992 and has earned 26 conference championships.
“You can’t deal with the presidents and other professionals at PAC institutions for so many years and not have the greatest respect for all they have done and will continue to do to promote Division III athletics,” said MacDowell. “We will miss these good people and good athletic programs.”
Martin echoed MacDowell’s comments. “Misericordia has enjoyed a great deal of success as a member of the PAC,” he said. “We’ve developed numerous friendships throughout the PAC over the years. It will be sad to say goodbye.” Misericordia has applied for university status in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The application is currently under review by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and, if approved, the college would become Misericordia University in late August 2007.
In addition to Misericordia, long-time PAC member Alvernia College will also make the transition to the MAC. The two will join Delaware Valley, DeSales, FDU-Florham, King’s, Manhattanville and Wilkes to form an eight-team league.
The MAC also contains the Commonwealth Conference which includes Albright College, Arcadia University, Elizabethtown College, Lebanon Valley College, Lycoming College, Messiah College and Widener University.
According to Ken Andrews, MASCAC Executive Director, Misericordia is a perfect fit for the MAC. “Misericordia enhances our reputation as one of the best Division III conferences in the country,” said Andrews. “Their sport offerings, athletic facilities, competitive prowess, coaching staff, administration and academic reputation fit well with the other MASCAC schools. I look forward to working with them as they make the transition to our conferences in the next year.”
The Middle Atlantic States Collegiate Athletic Corporation, founded in 1912, is an umbrella organization for three of the most competitive athletic conferences in NCAA Division III – Middle Atlantic, Freedom, and Commonwealth. Over that 95 year history, fifty-four institutions have participated in conference championships and earned numerous awards at the national level.
The presidents of member institutions ensure that the athletic enterprise fits within the academic mission, as defined by the MASCAC and NCAA.