Shepherd and the other eight football-playing members of the WVIAC are leaving the league effective with the beginning of the 2013-14 school term.
The 15-member West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference will effectively be reduced to only six schools by the move of the nine schools that have fielded football teams before now.
Leaving will be Shepherd, Fairmont, Concord, Charleston, West Virginia State, West Liberty, Glenville, Seton Hill, and West Virginia Wesleyan.
The nine WVIAC schools will attempt to form a 12-team, all-sports league. None of the other three schools the league hopes to secure have made a commitment to the new, unnamed conference.
Reid Amos, West Liberty’s vice president of broadcasting and spokesman for the new league, released this statement: “The consensus among the leadership of the WVIAC institutions currently playing football is that it is in the best interest of their institutions to align as a part of a new 12 member all-sports conference that will create increased exposure for its members across a regional footprint.”
It has been reported that the athletic directors and presidents of the nine schools forming the new league met last week and were unanimous in their thinking that they would leave the WVIAC.
Amos also said: “Our institutions believe a 12-team all-sports conference creates a solid foundation for its membership. The investment required for an all-sports league will level the playing field for all of its member institutions while positioning its members for growth.”
Shepherd athletic director B. J. Pumroy said that not only is NCAA Division I becoming a changing map of conferences and alignments, but that Division II (where Shepherd holds membership) has also been changing.
Said Pumroy: “There has already been some movement in Division II. West Liberty has a television station that can broadcast its football games to a more regional network.
“Two Division II conferences already broadcast games. One is the South and one is in the West. There are cable networks looking at programming. They are attempting to increase their number of sponsors and their viewership range.
“If we can increase our footprint in the region, we have to look into doing that.”
Pumroy stated that any viable Division II conference has to have at least 10 members. The WVIAC is currently home to 15 schools with nine playing football through the 2011 season. Alderson-Broaddus will field a football team in 2012, but will not be playing mostly Division III, other non-scholarship teams, or NAIA schools and will not be competing for the WVIAC championship.
The 2012 football season will still have nine schools chasing the WVIAC title. The remainder of the men’s and women’s sports will also remain as they have been in the immediate past . . . with nothing changing until the 2013-14 school year when the new, unnamed conference will begin to play.