Word on Friday that the Pennsylvania College of Technology has applied for exploratory status in Division III of the National Collegiate Athletic Association was met with a sense of excitement.
"(There were) a lot of great conversations following the (informational meeting with the coaches). I think they are ready for the jump to the next level," said Athletic Director Scott Kennell. "We had a great reaction from our coaches, a lot of positives. I was very happy to see the response of (them) thanking us."
"I think it's fair to say what they're (coaches) most excited about is learning more about how to recruit," said Elliott Strickland, chief student affairs officer. "What they've been focused on is the coaching and teaching and getting students who are already here to come out for the sports. Now, this is really transitioning to going outside and bringing students in."
If accepted for the one-year exploratory status in the spring, the process of becoming a full-fledged NCAA member will take five years, including four years as a provisional member. During that time Penn College athletic teams will continue to compete in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, and the Penn State University Athletic Conference in the immediate future.
Kennell said that athletic contests between Penn College and area colleges and universities - such as Lycoming, Susquehanna and those in the Wilkes-Barre area - that have been fostered in recent years will continue.
"What we offer is the ability to continue your athletic experience at a high NCAA level at an institution that is going to give you an education with degrees that work; that lead to good employable careers," Strickland said. "NCAA affiliation is going to give us much wider exposure on a local, regional and national level. It is going to have people perceive both the athletic quality and the institutional quality as different, so we'll get some indirect positive impact from moving to NCAA status. The most direct one is that we're going to recruit around 225 students that would have not come to Penn College had our coaches not gone out and recruited. NCAA affiliation, for us, means more students coming to the institution.
"I think the campus is very excited. President (Dr. Davie Jane) Gilmour's announcement at the all-college meeting (Friday morning) had spontaneous applause afterward. The campus community is really excited and supportive and we're excited to tell the students when they return (today), as well."
In addition to adding six full-time coaching positions over the next several years, Kennell said that the basketball court in Bardo Gymnasium will be lengthened by five feet at each end in order to meet NCAA regulations and it is hoped that an artificial turf multi-purpose field eventually will be installed on campus.
"We're really excited. ... We think this will have a pretty strong reaction in the community and among the alumni and students. It looks like everybody is very excited about it," Kennell said.
As the winter sports season resumed Saturday, the basketball teams split, with the men winning and women losing, and the wrestling team went 1-2 in a quad meet.
Scott Fenton scored 17 points, including the game-winner in the closing seconds, and Christopher Carrington added 14 points and Jesse Newman had 11 in a 57-55 home victory over PSU Greater Allegheny which snapped an eight-game Wildcats losing streak. Penn College led by as many as 14 points early in the second half as it went to 2-11 overall and 1-4 in the PSUAC. Fenton and Nathaniel Brown each had 11 rebounds for the Wildcats as they held a 46-35 rebounding edge for the game.
Poor shooting, just 20 of 60 from the floor, was costly in a 67-55 home loss to PSU Greater Allegheny. Jamie Steer led Penn College with 25 points and 12 rebounds as the Wildcats dropped to 6-6 overall and 3-2 in the PSUAC. Dana Reed grabbed 10 rebounds for Penn College.
In action at Alfred State (N.Y.), the Wildcats defeated the host team, 27-24, then lost to Mercyhurst North East, 26-24, and Bergen County Community College (N.J.), 34-15, to go to 8-7 overall. For Penn College, Tyler Myers went 3-0 in the 157-pound weight class with a forfeit and two pins, and Logan Gresock went 3-0 at 174 and 184 with a forfeit, fall and technical fall. Also for the Wildcats, Wade Jacobson finished the day 2-1 at 141 and Alex Muller was 2-1 at 184 and 197.
Schedules and results
Overall record: 2-11
PSUAC record: 1-4
Saturday, Jan. 12 host PSU Greater Allegheny, W, 57-55
Monday, Jan. 14 at PSU Lehigh Valley, 8 p.m.
Wednesday, Jan. 16 at PSU Hazleton, 8 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 19 at PSU Wilkes-Barre, 3 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 21 host Central Penn, 8 p.m.
Overall record: 6-6
PSUAC record: 3-2
Saturday, Jan. 12 host PSU Greater Allegheny, L, 67-55
Wednesday, Jan. 16 at PSU Hazleton, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 19 at PSU Wilkes-Barre, 1 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 21 host Central Penn, 6 p.m.
Overall record: 8-7
PSUAC record: 3-0
Saturday, Jan. 12 at Alfred, N.Y., State, W, 27-24; vs. Bergen, N.J., County Community College, L, 34-15; vs. Mercyhurst University North East, L, 26-24
Tuesday, Jan. 15 at PSU Greater Allegheny, 7 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 19 host SUNY Stony Brook, N.Y., noon; host West Chester University, 3 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 26 at Lock Haven University (preliminary bouts), 5 p.m.