JOHNSTOWN — A new era for Pitt-Johnstown athletics is set to begin when the school officially announces Tuesday it has accepted an invitation to join the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference beginning in the 2013-14 season.
The Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail reported Saturday that the 16 presidents of PSAC schools voted unanimously to invite Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill. Both have been members of the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference since 2007, and while neither officials from the PSAC or Pitt-Johnstown would confirm Sunday the invitation was formally accepted, both parties confirmed plans for Tuesday’s press conference on UPJ’s campus.
PSAC Commissioner Steve Murray went so far as saying he would attend the press conference, and Pitt-Johnstown Athletic Director Pat Pecora confirmed the invitation was extended.
“Right now, we have an invitation extended and we’re going to have a meeting (today) with a press conference on Tuesday,” said Pecora, who is also the Mountain Cats wrestling coach.
The expansion marks the second for the PSAC, which would increase to 18 members. Pitt-Johnstown and Mansfield would be the only non-football playing members of the conference. Long Island University-Post is a part-time member in football and lacrosse. Mansfield dropped its football program in 2006.
“This is the second time we’ve done this and it has moved with a little faster timing this time around,” Murray said. “The central issue was we couldn’t go too much farther to make the decision for next year.”
Murray said the basics for adding schools to the PSAC comes down to two factors — geography and scheduling. Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill make sense under both criteria, according to Murray.
Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill, which is located in Greensburg, make natural rivalries with Indiana University of Pennsylvania, California and Clarion among others.
“It wasn’t something that needed a lot of overanalyzing,” said Murray, who visited both Pitt-Johnstown and Seton Hill in early July. “All those fans in the southwest will be able to walk to the games.”
Murray likened the situation to the one in the Erie area, where Edinboro, Gannon and Mercyhurst are all PSAC members. Gannon and Mercyhurst, both private schools like Pitt-Johnstown, joined the PSAC on a full-time basis in 2007.
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