Athletes for Point Park and Carlow universities will compete in a new conference this fall, both leaving the league they had been part of for more than a decade.
Point Park announced the move Tuesday and will be joined by Carlow in the move from the American Mideast Conference to the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Point Park will participate in 11 varsity sports and Carlow six in the KIAC, which is an NAIA conference.
"Joining the KIAC will ensure that we can continue conference affiliation, which allows for easier scheduling as well as postseason opportunities on the conference and national levels," Point Park athletic director Dan Swalga said.
Point Park had been involved in the American Mideast since 1998-99, but the number of programs in the conference had dwindled from 18 members five years ago to just eight in 2011-12. Six Ohio schools -- Cedarville, Walsh, Malone, Notre Dame, Ursuline and Mount Vernon -- left for other Midwest conferences over the past two years, and some are pursuing membership in the NCAA as Division II or III programs.
Swalga said the move to the KIAC wasn't a matter of Point Park leaving the AMC, but the AMC crumbling on its own after a 62-year existence.
"The day that the six schools ... decided that they were going to try to band together to join [NCAA Division II], that was the beginning of the end of the conference," Swalga said. "Everyone else had to start thinking about their future.
"We were talking about trying to affiliate as a group with another NAIA conference. But that ended up being a little bit difficult for us because the schools we were talking with were in Maine, which made the travel like a 1,000 miles away. So we were hesitant with that."
The addition of Point Park and Carlow to the KIAC gives the conference 12 teams. Most important, said Swalga, the league will have automatic bids to national tournaments in 10 of Point Park's 11 varsity sports.
Carlow and Point Park join 10 current members of the KIAC, Asbury University, Alice Lloyd College, Berea College, Brescia University, Midway College -- all in Kentucky -- and Indiana University East, Indiana University Southeast, Mountain State University in West Virginia, Cincinnati Christian University and the St. Louis College of Pharmacy.
"It will be a little more travel," Swalga said, noting that team has travel significant distances in the past. "We're used to it, but it does extend it a little bit. But every member of the KIAC has been very sensitive to missed class time and also trying to group games together, especially with us and Carlow."
Stephen J. Nesbitt: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-2193 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.