Penn State Abing­ton earns NCAA D-III mem­ber­ship

The Ambler Gazette - - OPINION - By Mike Prince

For coaches like David Castel­lanos, the mens’ soc­cer coach at Penn State Abing­ton for the past six years, the abil­ity to bring in higher cal­iber ath­letes just be­came a task noW Ds dLI­fiFuOW Ds LW PDy KDve been in prior years.

On July 24, the Abing­ton branch of Penn State Univer­sity was granted with full ac­tive mem­ber­ship in the Na­tional Col­le­giate Ath­letic As­so­ci­a­tion (NCAA) Division III, which will be­come ef­fec­tive on Sept. 1.

The NCAA Division III Man­age­ment Coun­cil and Pres­i­dent’s Coun­cil gave its finDO DSSUovDO MusW weeNs ago af­ter the Mem­ber­ship CoPPLWWee FeUWL­fied WKDW WKe Abing­ton cam­pus suc­cess­fully com­pleted the pro­vi­sional and re­clas­si­fy­ing process. The achieve­ment gives the Penn State branch the abil­ity to have its ath­letes be­come el­i­gi­ble to play in NCAA cham­pi­onships, el­i­gi­ble to be ranked and el­i­gi­ble for Al­lAmer­i­can sta­tus, as well as post-grad­u­ate schol­ar­ships.

“We’re re­ally ex­cited at the op­por­tu­nity at try­ing to make the NCAA tour­na­ment now, while giv­ing a good name to PSU Abing­ton in­di­vid­u­ally in all of our sports,” said Castel­lanos, PSU Abing­ton’s long­est tenured ath­letic coach. “We were all re­ally ex­cited and it was a sigh of re­lief for ev­ery­body. We’ve been try­ing to push it to re­cruits and we knew we were close with our sta­tus the last few years. We’re just very re­lieved and ex­cited and anx­ious to go to work.”

PSU Abing­ton cur­rently has an ath­letic pro­gram which con­sists of 14 dif­fer­ent sports, in­clud­ing base­ball, soft­ball, men’s golf and women’s vol­ley­ball, as well as men’s and women’s teams in bas­ket­ball, lacrosse, cross coun­try, soc­cer and tennis.

And now, all of those teams will be el­i­gi­ble for Division III play once the up­com­ing school year be­gins.

“, wDs WKULOOed Wo find DEouW our sta­tus be­ing ap­proved,” PSU Abing­ton ath­letic di­rec­tor Dr. haren Weaver said. “It’s some­thing that we worked very hard for as an in­sti­tu­tion and we weUe veUy Fon­fi­denW WKDW we could do it, so it was a real ac­com­plish­ment for the en­tire in­sti­tu­tion.”

Weaver, who has been the ath­letic di­rec­tor at PSU Abing­ton for six years, was the as­so­ciate ath­letic di­rec­tor at the Univer­sity of Min­nesota be­fore join­ing the Nit­tany Lions’ fam­ily. And with the phone call back on July 24 that she re­ceived re­gard­ing her school’s new­found sta­tus, she couldn’t be more ex­cited for the fu­ture of PSU Abing­ton’s sports pro­grams.

“We’re see­ing changes al­ready,” she said. “Each year, we’ve got­ten more and more com­pet­i­tive in ath­let­ics and now we’re go­ing to be even more com­pet­i­tive in this re­gion with com­pe­ti­tion.”

P68 AELnJWon fiUsW DS- SOLed IoU WKe sWDWus five yeDUs ago, which was fol­lowed by the school be­ing put on ex­ploratory ser­vice for one year, fol­lowed by three years of pro­vi­sional sta­tus. The school was ac­cel­er­ated one year in the mid­dle of the process, giv­ing PSU Abing­ton the sta­tus one year early, as it nor­mally takes four years to achieve ac­tive sta­tus.

Be­fore the sta­tus was ap­proved, PSU Abing­ton wDs non-DI­fiOLDWed wLWK WKe NCAA, never be­ing part of a na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion for its ath­letic pro­grams.

“The NCAA is a rec­og­niz­able and com­pet­i­tive level, so when high school students are con­sid­er­ing col­leges, they un­der­stand what Division III means, and it helps to level WKe SODyLnJ fieOd Ln UeFUuLWLnJ against other non-schol­ar­ship in­sti­tu­tions,” Weaver said.

Since PSU Abing­ton does not of­fer schol­ar­ships, Castel­lanos be­lieves that this should help the in­sti­tu­tion and ath­letic pro­grams greatly to bring in some of the bet­ter tal­ent in the area.

“I think it gives us cred­i­bil­ity,” he said. “In re­gards to ath­let­ics, we now have a great name and the abil­ity to com­pete with other Division III schools and gives us a one-up on other pri­vate in­sti­tu­tions. We al­ready have a great name in re­gards to ed­u­ca­tion, so this just helps tremen­dously.”

The process to achieve Division III sta­tus was han­dled by Weaver, with all of the coaches help­ing out in one way or an­other. Weaver made sure that all of the ros­ters were fiOOed Dnd FoPSOeWed Dnd IoOlowed all NCAA rules.

In 2008, PSU Abing­ton was one of only three col­leges in the na­tion to be in­vited to be­gin the pro­vi­sional process. And now, with the sta­tus ap­proved, the school’s mis­sion state­ment ex­plains what Weaver and the en­tire in­sti­tu­tion was striv­ing for since the process started back in 2006. The mis­sion state­ment reads: “Penn State Abing­ton pre­pares stu­dent ath­letes to en­gage with the cam­pus’ aca­demic and so­cial en­vi­ron­ment though de­vel­op­ing life­long skills in lead­er­ship, sports­man­like con­duct and ath­letic ex­cel­lence. Our pro­gram’s fo­cus is on the de­vel­op­ment of the whole per­son, and we place stu­dent ath­lete wel­fare as our high­est pri­or­ity. We pro­mote and re­in­force tra­di­tional val­ues of hon­esty, in­tegrity, com­mit­ment and hard work as the foun­da­tion of our ath­let­ics pro­gram. We take great pride in hir­ing coaches who DUe WeDFKeUs fiUsW Dnd ePbrace these val­ues.”

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