Written by Chris Pendleton
BUENA VISTA, Va.—Southern Virginia University today announced that it will join the Capital Athletic Conference beginning July 1, 2013.
This announcement follows yesterday’s news that Southern Virginia’s NCAA Division III provisional membership application was approved and will be effective on September 1, 2012, by which time the four-year private liberal arts university must comply with all D-III requirements.
“This exciting news follows our recent announcements about regional accreditation and NCAA Division III provisional membership,” said Southern Virginia University President Paul K. Sybrowsky. “We are thrilled to join the Capital Athletic Conference, which, along with Southern Virginia and D-III, places highest priority on academics and the overall educational experience of scholar-athletes.”
According to Capital Athletic Conference Commissioner Tom Byrnes, the CAC began considering Southern Virginia for potential membership last fall when the university began its NCAA Division III exploratory year.
“After Southern Virginia expressed interest in Capital Athletic Conference membership, the CAC leadership reviewed all information available and visited the campus,” said Byrnes. “The presidents and athletic directors were impressed with Southern Virginia’s leadership, academic standards and plans for a solid NCAA Division III athletic program. Membership was ultimately offered because the CAC leadership believes Southern Virginia will be an excellent partner with the other CAC institutions, while fielding a competitive athletic program.”
Southern Virginia will join the CAC as a full member at the same time as Christopher Newport University and Penn State Harrisburg.
"The Capital Athletic Conference has demonstrated its competitiveness and high academic standards for student athletes over many years,” said Dr. George Waldner, president of York College of Pennsylvania and chair of the CAC Presidents Council. “We are pleased to welcome three new members, who increase our geographic scope, diversity and stature in NCAA Division III."
Formed in 1989, the Capital Athletic Conference recently completed its 22nd championship season as an all-sports conference. The CAC is a coalition of four-year, co-educational institutions promoting intercollegiate athletic competition among schools located in close geographic proximity that have similar educational and athletic philosophies.
The Capital Athletic Conference currently has seven full member institutions—Frostburg State University (Md.), Marymount University (Va.), the University of Mary Washington (Va.), Salisbury University (Md.), St. Mary’s College of Maryland (Md.), Wesley College (Del.) and York College of Pennsylvania (Pa.)—and the additions of Southern Virginia, CNU and Penn State Harrisburg will increase membership to ten schools by the 2013-14 academic year.
"The Capital Athletic Conference continues to get stronger and stronger with the additions of Southern Virginia, Christopher Newport and Penn State Harrisburg," said Byrnes. “These three new members will strengthen an already formidable athletic conference."
Byrnes explained that the best of the Capital Athletic Conference compete successfully on the national level, demonstrated by three CAC schools recently ranking in the Top 100 in the 2011-12 Learfield Directors Cup standings.
The Knights will become eligible for Captial Athletic Conference playoff competition in 2014-15 during the university’s third year of NCAA Division III provisional membership—one year after joining the conference—while CNU and Penn State Harrisburg both become immediately eligible for conference championships and D-III tournament opportunities upon joining the CAC.
“The opportunity for CAC tournament play by 2014-15 is very exciting for our athletic program,” explained Southern Virginia Athletic Director Scott Y. Doxey. “Regional tournaments will decrease travel demands on our scholar-athletes leaving them more time for academics and other activities.”
Southern Virginia currently has no regional conference affiliation, but has competed in United States Collegiate Athletic Association championship events over the past 15 years for national recognition. During that time, Southern Virginia has won 38 small-college national titles while more than 400 Knights have earned USCAA All-American or national academic honors.
“I think Southern Virginia will surprise many in the CAC and regionally with their competitiveness,” said Commissioner Byrnes. “Some Southern Virginia teams will be ahead of others on the competitive level in the CAC, but I anticipate the Knights will qualify for the conference playoffs and win playoff games soon after becoming eligible.”
The CAC sponsors championships in 21 varsity sports, including six fall sports (men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball), six winter sports (men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s indoor track and field) and nine spring sports (baseball, men’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s track and field).
Eleven of Southern Virginia’s twelve varsity sports—men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball and softball—will play full Capital Athletic Conference schedules during the 2012-13 school year.
The Knights’ football team—football is Southern Virginia’s only varsity sport not currently sponsored by the Capital Athletic Conference—will play an independent schedule until the university finds a suitable Division III conference willing to accept the program.
According to Commission Byrnes, the CAC has discussed additional sponsored sports, such as football, golf, women's rowing, men's volleyball and wrestling, while consistently considering the impact that any additions will have on current sports, as well as finances, travel and missed class time.
“Many in the CAC want the conference to sponsor a football conference, and the leadership will continue to evaluate if and how that can be done,” Commissioner Byrnes said.
Southern Virginia also plans to transition several current club teams to the varsity level in the near future, with men’s and women’s lacrosse receiving primary consideration.
“Southern Virginia will bring a competitive and growing athletic program to the CAC,” said commissioner Byrnes. “The plan for institutional growth at Southern Virginia, as well as additional facilities, staffing and sports sponsorships is appealing to the CAC, which has demonstrated its willingness to help institutions that are interested in growth and improvement.”
For more information about the Capital Athletic Conference, visit cacsports.com.