YOUNGSTOWN -- A new era in Youngstown State University athletics will dawn July 1, when the school officially joins the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.
The announcement was made Thursday at a press conference in the DeBartolo Stadium Club inside Stambaugh Stadium by Dr. David Sweet, YSU president.
He was joined by Pauline Saternow, YSU interim athletic director; Jim Morrison, Penguin Club president; and Jon LeCrone, Midwestern Collegiate Conference commissioner.
"This is a historic day for the university and our athletic programs," Sweet said. "It gives us the opportunity to develop in-state rivalries and exposure in larger media markets."
The MCC is comprised of Butler University in Indianapolis, Cleveland State, Detroit University, Illinois-Chicago, Loyola of Chicago, Wisconsin-Green Bay, Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Wright State in Dayton.
YSU was a member of the Mid-Continent Conference for nine years, but concerns dealing primarily with travel costs and low attendance led university officials to look elsewhere.
"Things happen. The planets align," said LeCrone. "The time is right, and this made all the sense in the world.
"From the conference's standpoint, adding Youngstown State strengthens all of our programs. We believe joining the conference will strengthen the YSU program."
Ready to go: YSU will be immediately eligible for all conference championships in the 2001-02 school year, with the exception of men's soccer and men's swimming and diving, two sports the university does not sponsor.
Conversely, adding YSU gives the MCC the requirements to satisfy an automatic bid to the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournaments in women's golf and men's tennis. That means added revenue for each conference school.
"This conference affiliation serves two purposes," said Saternow. "We are joining with institutions in which we can work collectively to grow athletically and academically."
Saternow pointed out that YSU's graduation rate for all student-athletes is "50-plus percent," which is similar to the MCC's.