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Alvernia swaps Middle Atlantic affiliation

Dec 10, 2008 9:32:08 AM

The NCAA News

A Middle Atlantic States College Athletic Corporation member will jump next year from one of that umbrella league’s conferences to another – preserving its new affiliates’ opportunity to automatically qualify for four Division III championships.

Alvernia, which is competing this year in the MASCAC’s Freedom Conference, will switch beginning in 2009-10 to the Commonwealth Conference in a move that school officials said also should cut travel for teams and reduce missed class time.

“Alvernia’s presence assures continued NCAA automatic qualification in all Commonwealth sports and enhances conferences scheduling with a typical eight-team format,” said MASCAC Executive Director Ken Andrews.

The move gives the Commonwealth Conference a seventh school in the sports of baseball, field hockey, and men’s and women’s tennis – thus enabling the league to retain automatic qualification to those NCAA championships.

Alvernia’s switch also gives the conference eight members in seven other sports – men’s and women’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, and women’s volleyball.

Meanwhile, the Freedom Conference continues with eight members sponsoring those sports.

“The move benefits our entire conference and also represents a welcome improvement for Alvernia’s student-athletes,” said Tom Flynn, the university’s president. “Our student-athletes will have less travel, thereby reducing their time away from campus and their academic pursuits.”

A school spokesman said only one of the Crusaders’ Commonwealth Conference opponents is further than a 90-minute drive away from Alvernia’s campus.

“We also anticipate the opportunity to build lively athletic rivalries with familiar and nearby schools, even as we play a diverse nonconference schedule of schools in the wider Mid-Atlantic region,” Flynn said.

The MASCAC is an umbrella organization for three conferences – the Commonwealth, Freedom and Middle Atlantic Conferences.

“Alvernia’s proximity to other Commonwealth schools will result in several new rivalries,” said MASCAC Chair Kim Phipps, president at Commonwealth Conference member Messiah. “Its academic and sport offerings are a great fit for the conference. For these reason, the MASCAC presidents unanimously supported this move.”

The switch comes just one year after Alvernia’s move from a 14-year affiliation with the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference (now known as the Colonial States Athletic Conference) into the MASCAC and the Freedom Conference.

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