At the end of March, Cheyney University announced that it will withdraw from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) at the end of the 2017-18 academic year and drop its National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II status.
The decision was made to help the university achieve financial sustainability. Cheyney will look to join another athletic conference for its men and women’s basketball teams as well as its women’s volleyball team. The teams will have an independent status for the 2018-19 academic year, according to a press release from Cheyney.
“These are extremely difficult but necessary decisions that are being made on behalf of our entire student population, and to help ensure the university’s future,” Cheyney President Aaron A. Walton said in the press release. “We want to continue to provide our student athletes the opportunity to participate as part of the overall college experience. Unfortunately, we cannot continue to do so at the current level of competition.”
Cheyney was one of the charter members of the PSAC, according to Shippensburg University Director of Athletics Jeff Michaels.
SU teams that will be affected by Cheyney’s decision include football, volleyball, men and women’s basketball, cross country and track.
In December 2017, Cheyney dropped its football team from the conference, which left a hole in SU’s football schedule.
Head coach Mark Maciejewski was able to find a game to fill the hole in the schedule with a game against Long Island University Post, according to Michaels.
“That’s the biggest impact for us right now, is that we have teams that normally have conference schedules [and] divisional opponents no longer there,” Michaels said.
Bloomsburg University announced that it was adding volleyball as a varsity sport beginning in the fall of 2018, so Cheyney’s withdraw will not affect their season. However, other sports do not have it as easy.
“The basketball [teams] are the challenge now,” Michaels said.
The PSAC in basketball has an east and a west division, and SU and Cheyney both play in the east division. SU would play Cheyney at home, and they would have an away game at Cheyney. This leaves the basketball teams with two open games until the PSAC is able to add a new member.
Michaels said he feels bad for the student athletes at Cheyney, but he understands what they are going through.
“Hard times lead to very difficult decisions, so I understand where the school came from,” Michaels said. “As an athletic director, you hope that you don’t have to make those types of decisions, but the reality is that they had to for the betterment of their institution.”