Franciscan jumps to the PAC

Presidents' Athletic Conference photo

The Presidents’ Athletic Conference announced the addition of Franciscan University of Steubenville as the league’s 10th full member Tuesday morning, April 16. The formal vote to admit Franciscan as a full-time member was held at the PAC Presidents’ Council meeting in Pittsburgh on April 11.

Franciscan is currently a member of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference. The school will be the PAC’s first full member added since 2007, when both Chatham University and Geneva College were admitted. 

Currently in its first season as a PAC affiliate member in men’s and women’s lacrosse, Franciscan will compete in women’s golf and men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field during the 2019-20 academic year. Franciscan’s 14 additional NCAA Division III sports will be eligible for PAC championships and all-conference honors in 2020-21.

With this year’s addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse the number of PAC-sponsored championship sports sits at 23 (12 men, 11 women).

"On behalf of the PAC, we are thrilled to welcome Franciscan University of Steubenville as the newest PAC full member. The PAC Presidents’ Council was very impressed with the school's academic stature and student-centered focus in a faith-based learning environment, as well as its commitment to continuing to develop a broad-based, successful NCAA Division III athletic program,” said PAC Commissioner Joe Onderko, in his 13th year as the league’s top administrator. “We believe they will make a seamless transition to our PAC culture, and look forward to them competing in all PAC championships beginning in the 2020-21 academic year."

In the 11-year history with the AMCC, the Barons have captured 20 Coach of the Year Honors, 22 Player of the Year winners, and 19 Newcomer of the Year honorees while winning 21 team championships.
"We have thoroughly enjoyed our experience with our Allegheny Mountain family," said Franciscan athletic director Mike Holmes. "We have had a good working relationship with the schools and some competitive contests with the members. I am confident we will continue to work together in non-conference competition to continue those relationships."
"As we look forward to full membership in the PAC in 2020, we are grateful to the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference which has been our home for more than a decade," remarked Schmiesing. "The support of the AMCC presidents and athletic directors, and especially the guidance of Commissioner Donna Ledwin, was essential to Franciscan University's re-launch of our intercollegiate athletics program and entry into the NCAA Division III."
"The Presidents' Athletic Conference represents such a desirable fit for Franciscan," continued Holmes. "Geographic reasons are obvious. Our students will miss less class and we will save a great deal of our travel budget for our conference contests going forward. Beyond the advantage of proximity, we will be able to enjoy associations with schools that share some aspects of our academic profile and mission."

The 10-member AMCC has six private schools, including Franciscan, and four state schools.

"Varsity athletics is an integral part of the Franciscan University educational experience. Our athletic program is well known for creating a faith-centered environment that promotes ongoing personal conversion and the development of Christian virtues and character. We are excited that this integration of mind and spirit will continue with our new affiliation in the Presidents' Athletic Conference," remarked Franciscan's president, Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR.
"Franciscan University is excited about our full membership in the Presidents' Athletic Conference. We have been playing against so many PAC schools for years in many of our sports, and we look forward to continuing and strengthening those friendly rivalries. The PAC is a great fit for Franciscan University, and we are committed to being an active and collaborative member, working with all of the other great schools in the conference to provide a high-quality Division III athletic experience for our student-athletes," said David Schmiesing, vice president of student life.
Franciscan brings 17 varsity sports to the PAC in 2020-21 and for the first time since becoming full members of the NCAA, all of the Baron NCAA teams will compete under the same conference affiliation.
In the fall of 2008, Franciscan athletics was in its second year as a provisional member of the NCAA and accepted membership into the AMCC. Since that time, the following sports have competed in the AMCC: baseball (2008-11), men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's and women's lacrosse (2017-18), men's and women's soccer, softball, women's swimming and diving, men's and women's tennis, and volleyball. The men's and women's track and field teams have competed as part of the Colonial States Athletic Conference since the 2016 outdoor season. 
The PAC's nine full-time member institutions are: Bethany, Chatham, Geneva, Grove City, St. Vincent, Thiel, Washington & Jefferson, Waynesburg and Westminster (Pa.).