Twelve colleges in West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia are forming an all-sports athletic conference, leaving the longstanding West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference with just three members.
The presidents of the 12 schools announced the formation of the Mountain East Conference on Monday. Competition will begin in fall 2013.
“The goal of this effort has been to align like-minded institutions with similar budgets and goals across a regional footprint,” league spokesman Reid Amos said. “We strongly believe that our charter membership creates a solid foundation that provides mutual benefit and secures the athletic future for our institutions. We will collectively make every effort to provide a high-quality experience for our student-athletes in Mountain East competition.”
The move follows an announcement Sunday night that Alderson-Broaddus College will exit the WVIAC to join the new Great Midwest Athletic Conference next year. And Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Commissioner Steve Murray tells the Charleston Daily Mail that Pennsylvania-based WVIAC members Seton Hill and Pitt-Johnstown are expected to accept invitations to join the PSAC.
The departures would leave the current 15-team WVIAC with three members: Bluefield State, Davis & Elkins and Ohio Valley.
WVIAC commissioner Barry Blizzard declined comment Monday on the league’s prospects.
Founded in 1924, the WVIAC is one of the nation’s oldest small-college leagues.
With current sports sponsorship, the Mountain East Conference would meet the NCAA requirement for a conference championship in 16 sports, among them football and men’s and women’s basketball.
Nine of the schools are current WVIAC members: Concord, Fairmont State, Glenville State, Shepherd, the University of Charleston, West Liberty, West Virginia State, Wheeling Jesuit and West Virginia Wesleyan. The schools from Ohio are Notre Dame College and Urbana. All are members of NCAA Division II.
The other school is Virginia-Wise, which has been accepted into the NCAA membership process and will compete in Division II in 2013 while pursuing full membership.
Virginia-Wise and Urbana had been scheduled to compete in the G-MAC beginning in 2013. Notre Dame College is a Division II independent. Five of its sports compete in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Alderson-Broaddus joins a conference that received NCAA Division II approval earlier this year. Other G-MAC members are Cedarville, Ohio; Central State, Ohio; Kentucky Wesleyan College, Trevecca Nazarene, Tenn., and Ursuline, Ohio.
Alderson-Broaddus is adding 10 sports in the next two years, bringing its offerings to 22 teams. Football will compete as a club sport this fall and as a full-fledged sport in 2013. Because the G-MAC doesn’t sponsor football, Alderson-Broaddus has begun exploring membership for that sport in other conferences. .