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Now there are 10.

The Presidents’ Athletic Conference grew by one school Tuesday, when the addition of Franciscan University of Steubenville was announced as the newest member of the league.

Most of the university’s 23 athletic programs will have conditional status until the 2020-21 season.

The Barons join Bethany, Carnegie-Mellon, Case Western Reserve, Chatham, Geneva, Saint Vincent, Thiel, Washington & Jefferson, Waynesburg and Westminster in the PAC.

“The PAC Presidents’ Council was very impressed with the school’s academic stature and student-centered focus in a faith-based learning environment, as well as its commitment to continuing to develop a broad-based, successful NCAA Division III athletic program,” said PAC Commissioner Joe Onderko, in his 13th year as the league’s top administrator.

“We believe they will make a seamless transition to our PAC culture, and look forward to them competing in all PAC championships beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.”

Franciscan does not have football as a varsity sport and the PAC suspended one of its bylaws that requires new members to sponsor the sport in order to be a member.

“Varsity athletics is an integral part of the Franciscan University educational experience. Our athletic program is well known for creating a faith-centered environment that promotes ongoing personal conversion and the development of Christian virtues and character. We are excited that this integration of mind and spirit will continue with our new affiliation in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference,” said Franciscan’s president, Fr. Sean Sheridan, TOR.

Franciscan sponsors 19 NCAA Division III sports, eight for men and 11 for women. The Barons were affiliated with the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference since 2008, winning a combined 21 team championships. The 2020-21 year will be the first for Franciscan to have all of its NCAA-affiliated athletic programs compete under the same conference affiliation.

The number of PAC-sponsored championship sports is 23, 12 for men and 11 for women. Franciscan is the latest member to the PAC since 2007, when Chatham University and Geneva College were added. The savings in travel costs will be substantial. The longest trip in the AMCC was to Rochester, N.Y.

“The PAC is a great fit for Franciscan University, and we are committed to being an active and collaborative member, working with all of the other great schools in the conference to provide a high-quality Division III athletic experience for our student-athletes,” said David Schmiesing, Vice President of Student Life at Franciscan.

Assistant Sports Editor

Joe Tuscano has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1980. He has covered all sports for the newspaper, including the Steelers, Pirates, Pitt football, local college football and wrestling.

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