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Southern Virginia University joins D-III Capital Athletic Conference

Published: Tuesday, July 31 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

BUENA VISTA, Va. — Good things are happening at Southern Virginia University.

Shortly after receiving the news that SVU's Division III membership application had been approved, the four-year private liberal arts university announced last week that it would join the Capital Athletic Conference beginning July 1, 2013.

“This exciting news follows our recent announcements about regional accreditation and NCAA Division III provisional membership,” said Southern Virginia President Paul K. Sybrowsky. “We are thrilled to join the Capital Athletic Conference, which, along with Southern Virginia and D-III, places highest priority on academics and the overall educational experience of scholar-athletes.”

SVU's sports programs will gain Division III status on Sept. 1. Southern Virginia will join the CAC as a full member at the same time as Christopher Newport University and Penn State Harrisburg.

CAC commissioner Tom Byrnes said the conference considered Southern Virginia for potential membership last fall when the school began its NCAA Division III exploratory year. He said the other school presidents were impressed with SVU's leadership, academic standards and plans for a solid NCAA Division III athletic program.

"Membership was ultimately offered because the CAC leadership believes Southern Virginia will be an excellent partner with the other CAC institutions, while fielding a competitive athletic program," Brynes said.

The CAC was formed in 1989 and currently includes seven institutions, including Frostburg State University (Md.), Marymount University (Va.), the University of Mary Washington (Va.), Salisbury University (Md.), St. Mary’s College of Maryland (Md.), Wesley College (Del.) and York College of Pennsylvania (Pa.). SVU, CNU and Penn State Harrisburg will join in 2013.

The Knights become eligible for CAC playoff competition in 2014-15, during the university’s third year of NCAA Division III provisional membership — one year after joining the conference — while CNU and Penn State Harrisburg both become immediately eligible for conference championships and D-III tournament opportunities upon joining the CAC.

“The opportunity for CAC tournament play by 2014-15 is very exciting for our athletic program,” explained SVU director Scott Y. Doxey. “Regional tournaments will decrease travel demands on our scholar-athletes leaving them more time for academics and other activities.”

Southern Virginia has competed in United States Collegiate Athletic Association championship events over the past 15 years for national recognition. During that time, Southern Virginia has won 38 small-college national titles while more than 400 Knights have earned USCAA All-American or national academic honors. Byrnes thinks SVU will be competitive immediately.

“Some Southern Virginia teams will be ahead of others on the competitive level in the CAC, but I anticipate the Knights will qualify for the conference playoffs and win playoff games soon after becoming eligible,” Byrnes said.

Eleven of Southern Virginia’s 12 varsity sports — men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball and softball — will play full Capital Athletic Conference schedules during the 2012-13 school year. The Knights’ football team is SVU's only varsity sport not currently sponsored by the CAC. The football team will play an independent schedule until the university finds a suitable Division III conference willing to accept the program.

Southern Virginia also plans to transition several current club teams to the varsity level in the near future, with men’s and women’s lacrosse receiving primary consideration.

“Southern Virginia will bring a competitive and growing athletic program to the CAC,” said Byrnes. “The plan for institutional growth at Southern Virginia, as well as additional facilities, staffing and sports sponsorships is appealing to the CAC, which has demonstrated its willingness to help institutions that are interested in growth and improvement.”

For more information on the Capital Athletic Conference, visit cacsports.com.

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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