The Lead

How will consolidation affect Pa. State System athletics? The NCAA has yet to decide

By: - July 20, 2021 4:24 pm

With the green light given on consolidation, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education is preparing for the most transformative redesign in its 38-year history, but it’s unclear what that means for athletics.

State System Chancellor Daniel Greenstein testified before the Senate Appropriations and Education committees on Tuesday, reiterating the need for consolidating six schools into two regional campuses to address sagging enrollment and rising tuition costs.

But with no final decision from the National Collegiate Athletic Association, it’s unclear whether Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities in northeastern Pennsylvania; and California, Clarion, and Edinboro universities in western Pennsylvania, will keep the full complement of their Division II athletic programs, which contribute to enrollment across the State System.

Pa. State System unanimously moves to consolidate six schools into regional campuses

Though there’s no definitive timeline for a decision, Greenstein estimated the NCAA will decide in conjunction with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education — which accredits universities and colleges — as they begin to evaluate both the merger and the accreditation process.

According to a statement from the commission, that process can take up to a year.

“That would be par for the course,” Greenstein testified.

Greenstein wouldn’t say if the State System has a backup plan if the NCAA rejects the bid to maintain all six athletic programs. Instead, he expects the NCAA will communicate any concerns rather than oppose the plan altogether.

“It’s not a switch they can turn on and off, at least in my experience,” Greenstein said. “It’s a dialogue.”

He added: “At the moment, it’s a very hypothetical situation, but as soon as we know what their concerns are, we can address them. At the moment, there are no concerns. From what I’m told, we’ve answered all the questions that they had.”

The NCAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, an NCAA spokesperson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the NCAA discussed the request during a panel at a two-day meeting. However, no formal action has been taken on the proposal.

The NCAA Division II membership committee will meet in September, according to a meeting notice.

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