Education

Penn State Shenango Teams to Start Play in 2018

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SHARON, Pa. — Penn State Shenango plans to have its men’s basketball and women’s volleyball programs up and running in less than 18 months, campus officials announced last night during a meet-and-greet event with alumni.

“Intercollegiate athletics is an important part of college life,” said Penn State Shenango Campus Director Jo Anne Carrick. “We are thrilled for our current and future students, as it will enhance the overall experience they will have at the Shenango campus.”

Planning to reestablish the athletic program at Penn State Shenango began two years ago when the campus underwent a finance redesign that included strategic initiatives to increase enrollment. An exploratory task force made up of staff, faculty, students, community members, advisory and alumni board members began gathering data and information about feasibility, operating costs, facilities, and a return on investment.

“When we began this process, we had to ask ourselves, ‘Why reestablish athletics at the Shenango campus?’” said Carrick. “What we came up with were some very solid reasons, including the fact that student athletes graduate at rates higher than other college students; the pride that intercollegiate athletics would bring to our student body; the opportunities of travel and learning life skills that our student athletes would encounter; and ultimately, the increase it would bring to our student enrollment.”

The task force presented its proposal to executives who oversee the commonwealth campuses. After many discussions and meetings, last fall the Shenango campus was given the green light to reinstate athletics, Carrick said.

Penn State Shenango will be part of the Penn State University Athletic Conference, and will be nationally affiliated with the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. The decision to choose men’s basketball and women’s volleyball was that those two sports must be part of a campus’ athletic program under the PSUAC rules. In addition to the 13 campus conference members, the Shenango schedule will include other local colleges and universities.

The Shenango campus has not had an athletic program since the 1990s when the campus still had its gymnasium — before the Sharon and Lecture Hall major renovations in 2005. The campus uses the F.H. Buhl Recreational Center for its indoor athletic programs and will continue to do so, Carrick said.

Additional sports will be considered by the campus as it builds its athletic program and will depend on its newest hire, Andre Smith, named coordinator of athletics program and recruitment and men’s basketball coach. Smith, a former Youngstown State University player and assistant basketball coach, was athletic director at Lourdes University in Sylvania, Ohio, where he was also the head men’s basketball coach.

“The similarity of Penn State Shenango and my last position at Lourdes University is uncanny,” said Smith. “At Lourdes University, I started their athletic program from the ground up. We had no housing at the beginning, and most of our students were studying nursing. Before I left, we had 16 varsity teams. My plan at Shenango is to make the men’s basketball team, which I will also be coaching, and our women’s volleyball team, strong and competitive. When the time is right, and we have the interest and students to add additional sports to our program, we’ll be ready.”

Pictured: Jo Anne Carrick, campus director, Sandy Barbour, Penn State athletics director, Bill Dungee, campus director of business and finance, and Andre Smith, newly named campus coordinator of athletics and men’s basketball coach.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.