AUGUSTA, GA – The Peach Belt Conference board of directors and commissioner David R. Brunk are pleased to announce that men's and women's outdoor track and field will become official conference championship sports beginning in 2012-13.
Additionally, the league welcomed the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Nova Southeastern University as its first associate members to help meet the NCAA minimum sports sponsorship, which requires six teams to formally conduct a league championships. With the two new schools, the PBC has six men's and seven women's track and field programs.
The 2013 PBC track and field championships are tentatively set to be held April 19 and 20 at a site to be determined. The addition of the two sports brings the Peach Belt to 15 total championships, the most championship events in league history.
"Having a conference championship in outdoor track will be a great addition to the Peach Belt Conference," said Clayton State head coach Mike Mead, who serves as chair of the PBC cross country coaches group and is completing a four-year term on the NCAA Track & Field Committee. "For the past 16 years, most of our track and field athletes did not have a championship to look forward to unless they qualified for the NCAA's. Now track and field athletes will get more recognition with a conference championship."
Said PBC commissioner Brunk from the league offices in Augusta, Ga, "This is a big day for us and I get excited every time we can announce expanded competitive opportunities for student-athletes. The addition of these two sports gives us a great opportunity to showcase the tremendous talent and skill of our student-athletes and we are pleased and proud to welcome two highly respected university programs to PBC track and field.
"Nova Southeastern and Alabama-Huntsville will both be outstanding associate members and we look forward to the contributions their teams will bring to the conference. We're proud to be able to offer this platform and provide a championship experience to a group of athletes that have not had one before."
Located in Huntsville, Ala., UAH began their women's track team in 2001 and sent their first competitors to the NCAA National Championships that same season. The men's team followed in 2004, both Chargers teams are coached by David Cain.
"We are very excited about competing for the Peach Belt Track men's and women's track championships in 2013," said athletic director Dr. E.J. Brophy. "Our running sports have had great success through the years, and we look forward to being a strong contributor to the Peach Belt Conference in Track and Field".
Nova Southeastern University, located in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., launched their men's and women's track and field program in 2007. Under fifth-year head coach Bryan Hagopian, the Sharks women's team earned a top-25 national ranking and NCAA Championships appearance in 2011 while the men sent two individuals to the NCAA finals that same season.
"We are excited to provide an opportunity for our track and field student-athletes by joining the Peach Belt Conference as an associate member," said NSU athletic director Michael Mominey. "The Peach Belt has always been recognized as one of the premier conference's in Division II and we are happy to be associated with our neighboring league".
UNC Pembroke, Columbus State and Clayton State will bring their established men's and women's teams to the PBC Track and Field Championships while Augusta State begins its men's and women's program this year along with the Montevallo women's team. In all, six men's teams and seven women's teams will compete at the first PBC Championships next April.