Tartans football to join PAC in 2014

Carnegie Mellon’s football team will be joining the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) at the start of the 2014 season as an affiliate member, while still maintaining full University Athletic Association (UAA) membership in all other varsity sports.

The Tartans will continue to play football against their UAA opponents, Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Chicago. The team will also continue to play against Case Western Reserve University’s football team, as it will be joining the PAC in 2014 as an affiliate member alongside Carnegie Mellon.

Carnegie Mellon was a full member of the PAC from 1968 to 1989, until joining the UAA conference in 1990 as a founding member.

During their time in the UAA, the Tartans won eight UAA championships and won an NCAA Division III playoff game against Millsaps College in 2006.

“We’ve had a great relationship with the UAA,” said Carnegie Mellon head football coach Rich Lackner. “We’re one of the founding members, and we have a strong commitment to the UAA as a sports association. We’ve had some great competition in the UAA over the years.”

Joining the PAC conference will enable Carnegie Mellon football to qualify for NCAA playoffs, being that the UAA is not a qualifying conference with only four football team members. Although UAA teams can be invited to the playoffs, PAC champions are automatic entrants into the NCAA Division III playoffs.

“The best part about rejoining the PAC is that a lot of old rivalries will be renewed,” said junior fullback Jake Nardone. “It’s also exciting to know that an automatic playoff bid will be up for grabs every season.”

There were also scheduling difficulties, given the lack of football teams in the UAA.

“It’s very difficult these days to schedule three UAA games, and then not have another conference or affiliation to go along with and just try to schedule seven independent games,” Lackner said.

The PAC will also bring more competition closer to home, as conference members include teams from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky, and the Tartans will not have to travel to Illinois for conference games. The wider variety of competing teams will enable the Tartans to experience new offensive and defensive schemes, as well as build new relationships with other teams.

The Tartans hope to compete at the high level they once did in their first stint in the PAC, which included a conference championship in 1989. The current first-years will lead the Tartans as seniors in their first season in the PAC.