Next spring the PAC will be among the 26 men’s conference champions and 30 women’s conference champions granted Pool A automatic qualification (AQ) to the annual Division III Championship.
The addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse will increase the number of PAC-sponsored championship sports to 23 (12 men, 11 women).
“The return of lacrosse under the PAC banner culminates a five-year plan to help firmly establish this exciting and growing sport in our conference. Combining with the Heartland (Collegiate Athletic Conference) to form the ORLC (Ohio River Lacrosse Conferences) has served its core purpose, as it allowed schools in both conferences to expedite growth and stability of their young varsity lacrosse programs,” said PAC Commissioner Joe Onderko. “We deeply appreciate our great relationship with the Heartland in this joint venture and wish their schools every success in the future, but the time has come for us to stand independently in the PAC with lacrosse as an official conference sport starting in the 2019 season.”
On December 19, 2012, the PAC Presidents’ Council formally announced its approval of the addition of the two varsity sports at its December 5 meeting. Unofficial conference championship events in both sports took place in 2013 and 2014.
The formation of the single-sport Ohio River Lacrosse Conferences (ORLC) was announced on September 1, 2014. PAC lacrosse programs have been competing as members of the ORLC since 2015, along with lacrosse-playing schools from the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC). The 2018 season was the final season for PAC schools to compete in the ORLC.
Current league members Bethany College, Chatham University, Saint Vincent College, Thiel College, Washington & Jefferson College and Westminster College sponsor both men’s and women’s varsity lacrosse programs. Grove City College sponsors a men’s program, while Waynesburg University sponsors a women’s program.
Also, the PAC recently accepted Franciscan University of Steubenville as an affiliate member in both men’s and women’s lacrosse, starting in 2018-19. The vote to accept Franciscan took place at the PAC Presidents’ Council meeting on December 7, 2017.
Men’s and women’s programs will play a full round robin league schedule in 2019, with conference championship tournaments contested in early May to determine the winners of the PAC’s men’s and women’s automatic-qualifying bids.