NCAC to gain membership from OAC

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The North Coast Athletic Conference would receive a stiff test from the John Carroll men’s basketball team as it is currently configured.
John Carroll athletics photo

By Patrick Coleman and Dave McHugh,

John Carroll University is expected to be leaving the Ohio Athletic Conference to join the North Coast Athletic Conference, which would end a relationship with the OAC that was restarted in 1989.

The news was originally reported earlier on Jan. 5 by Bob Quillman of the Q-Cast. The North Coast Athletic Conference declined to comment specifically on the specifics of John Carroll’s membership, but Executive Director Keri Alexander Luchowski told “We’ve been talking about membership and what that might mean for us for a little over two years now . We’ve talked about a lot of things over that time and we’ll be continuing our discussions.”

The pending move was confirmed over the past several weeks by others with knowledge of the news, with the understanding that the sources would not be identified.

The news was made official in an announcement on Jan. 18, 2024.

The North Coast Athletic Conference was originally formed by a number of schools leaving the OAC in the early 1980s. However, this would be the first time a school will have moved from the OAC to the NCAC since Hiram did so for the 2000-01 academic year.

John Carroll leaving the OAC would provide the Blue Streaks’ football team with what would seem to be a more reliable path to the Division III football playoffs. Although an expansion of the Division III football playoffs from 32 to 40 teams seems to be coming sooner rather than later, and although Mount Union has not won the football national championship since 2017, leaving the OAC would be a favorable move for the JCU football team .

The Blue Streaks are also strong competitors in the OAC in men’s and women’s cross country, indoor and outdoor track, lacrosse and soccer. The North Coast Athletic Conference does not currently sponsor men’s wrestling, which is a sport in which John Carroll competes.

The move would take effect in the fall of 2025.

The North Coast Athletic Conference would once again have 10 members, as it did before Allegheny left for the Presidents’ Athletic Conference for the 2022-23 season. The Ohio Athletic Conference would be reduced to nine full members. Prior to joining the OAC, John Carroll was a long-time member of the Presidents’ Athletic Conference, with rivals such as Carnegie Mellon and Case Western Reserve.

It could be the first of a series of moves in Region 7, perhaps involving schools in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association and Presidents’ Athletic Conference.

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