|Shenandoah has played three ODAC opponents each of
the past two years, and played two ODAC teams in football the two
Shenandoah athletics photo
Shenandoah president Tracy Fitzsimmons announced Wednesday afternoon that its athletics department has been offered and accepted membership in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.
The Hornets' 20-program department will become the 14th full member of the ODAC on July 1, 2012. Until that time, Shenandoah, located in Winchester, Va., will continue its primary membership in the USA South for most sports and associate membership for men's lacrosse in the Colonial States Athletic Conference. The addition of Shenandoah brings the number of football schools in the ODAC to eight, while the USA South will be reduced to seven, still enough for an automatic bid.
A decision about conference membership for women's field hockey and men's and women's indoor and outdoor track & field, currently members of the Middle Atlantic Conference, will be announced shortly.
The change in membership is the first for the department since it joined the USA South (nee Dixie) as an active member in July 1993. SU joined the CSAC (then called Pennsylvania Athletic) in 1998 for men's lacrosse and the MAC for field hockey and men's and women's indoor and outdoor track & field in 2009.
USA South won't lose automatic bid, yet
"This is a great day for SU, our athletic department and especially for our student-athletes," stated Fitzsimmons. "I believe that SU's competitive athletic program and strong commitment to academics make us a good fit for the ODAC. I look forward to years of spirited competition with our ODAC colleagues."
The ODAC offer of membership completes a process that has existed unofficially or officially since the early 1980s.
"We are pleased to have Shenandoah University as the 14th member of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference," said ODAC commissioner Brad Bankston. "The invitation concludes a thorough study of our conference and its membership options. Shenandoah is a great academic and athletic fit that possesses a broad-based athletics program grounded in the Division III model – a model that places the emphasis on the student-athlete's entire educational experience."
By joining the ODAC, Shenandoah cuts its average travel distance to conference schools by nearly 100 miles with football improving by 135 miles and women's lacrosse by 207.
The shortest trip that Shenandoah currently has to a USA South football institution is 210 miles to Ferrum. Ten of the 13 ODAC schools are closer than the distance from SU to Ferrum and five are less than 150 miles from Winchester.
"We have enjoyed a significant history in the USA South, but we have always wanted to be affiliated with one conference for our 20 intercollegiate programs," athletics director Wayne Edwards said.
"The Old Dominion Athletic Conference provides that opportunity and is synonymous with academic and athletic excellence. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to become a full member of the ODAC and look forward to meaningful and collegial relationships with each of the other 13 schools in the conference. We are grateful to the ODAC presidents and athletics directors for their membership invitation, and to Commissioner Brad Bankston for his facilitation of the entire process.
"I want to thank Rita Wiggs, the commissioner of the USA South Athletic Conference, for her patience and professionalism during this process. We were open and honest with each other from the beginning, and this enabled the process to proceed smoothly and without dissension.
"We look forward to finishing our time in the USA South in a positive and constructive manner. I have tremendous respect for all of the USA South institutions, their athletics directors and staffs and appreciate their understanding our reasons for making this change in conference affiliation. Shenandoah will provide assistance in every possible way as the USA South works through this change in membership."