CWRU football gains affiliate membership in Presidents’ Athletic Conference

The 2011 Spartan football team went 9-1 and won the Academic Bowl. Photo by Chip Valleriano.

Case Western Reserve University’s football team will join the Presidents’ Athletic Conference as an affiliate member at the start of the 2014 season. While the program will maintain its affiliation with the University Athletic Association, PAC membership will provide new opportunities for Spartan student-athletes.

“Our football program, department and university are thrilled to accept this opportunity along with our UAA peer, Carnegie Mellon University,” said Dave Diles, Case Western Reserve director of athletics. “We are dedicated to becoming a highly contributing member of this outstanding conference, and we will support its shared mission of promoting intercollegiate athletics and the pursuit of academic excellence.”

Along with UAA-rival Carnegie Mellon (Pa.), the Spartans will have an eight-game PAC schedule, while maintaining UAA contests with Washington University (Mo.) and the University of Chicago. The Case Western Reserve vs. Carnegie Mellon contest will count toward both PAC and UAA standings.

“The PAC’s leadership team displayed great understanding and professionalism relative to our ongoing and comprehensive commitment to the UAA,” Diles said. “We will, of course, maintain our full commitment to the association.”

The addition of Case Western Reserve and Carnegie Mellon brings the nine-team PAC to 11. The league will continue to crown a regular season champion eligible for an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Playoffs. Case Western Reserve and Carnegie Mellon will join Bethany College (W. Va.), Geneva College (Pa.), Grove City College (Pa.), Saint Vincent College (Pa.), Thiel College (Pa.), Thomas More College (Ky.), Washington & Jefferson College (Pa.), Waynesburg University (Pa.) and Westminster College (Pa.).

“Our new affiliation with the PAC will give our student-athletes and coaching staff the best of both worlds,” said eighth-year head coach Greg Debeljak. “We will be able to compete for an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III Playoffs and continue a tradition of UAA football. Having played several PAC schools during my early years at Case Western Reserve, our program has seen firsthand the exceptional level of competition the league provides. We are excited about the opportunity.”

Case Western Reserve has long ties to the PAC. Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, the institutions that joined to become Case Western Reserve, were founding PAC members in 1955. The teams competed separately for many years and then formed one team in 1970. CWRU was a full-time PAC member until 1984 and has competed on the gridiron with six of the aforementioned nine schools.

The Spartan football team (9-1 in 2011) has won four of the past five UAA Championships with three-consecutive NCAA Playoff appearances from 2007 to 2009. Over the last five seasons, the Spartans’ overall record is 48-6.

Founded in 1955, the Presidents’ Athletic Conference continues its mission of promoting intercollegiate athletics and the pursuit of academic excellence. Consisting of 10 select private institutions in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Kentucky, the PAC remains a unique organization in this day of high pressure intercollegiate athletics. With academics at the center of each member’s philosophy, the PAC is built on the principle that an athletic program is a part of college life, but not an entity in itself. The PAC annually crowns champions in 19 sports (10 men, nine women).

“Given our past history as a founding member of the PAC, and our overall respect and admiration for the institutions that comprise this great league, this is a wonderful home for our football program and we are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference,” Diles said.