Penn State Abington earns NCAA D-III membership
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.”