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Ƶ University’s momentum continued today with the announcement that the institution will join the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) beginning in Fall 2025. The athletic conference change is the latest step in Ƶ’s three-year, $100 million strategy to bolster the student experience, grow the academic portfolio, enhance the campus, and expand the institution’s reach.

Membership in the prestigious North Coast Athletic Conference aligns Ƶ’s nationally competitive athletic programs with other liberal arts colleges and universities that share a focus on rigorous academics and high-level athletics. The Blue Streaks will become the 10th member of the conference which includes institutions from Ohio and Indiana that serve students well beyond the Midwest.

“Athletics has been an integral part of the student experience at Ƶ for more than a century and we are pleased to accept the invitation to join the NCAC during a pivotal time in our history,” said President Al Miciak.

Our Board of Directors and University leadership are committed to ongoing strategic investments that will ensure that the gift of a Jesuit education from Ƶ is available for generations to come. We are pleased to align with a group of academically and athletically competitive partners in the NCAC who enjoy national reach and reputation as high-ranking liberal arts institutions.

Current North Coast Athletic Conference full-time members include Denison University, DePauw University, Hiram College, Kenyon College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wabash College, Wittenberg University, and The College of Wooster. Affiliate members include Allegheny College, Earlham College, Transylvania University, and Washington & Jefferson College.

Miciak continued, “We are grateful to the OAC and its partner institutions for more than 30 years of incredible rivalry and competition and we look forward to maintaining our relationships with them both on and off the field.”

The Blue Streaks will depart the Ohio Athletic Conference after being a member since the 1989-90 academic year. Ƶ also competed in the OAC from 1932-49. In between, JCU was a founding member of the Presidents Athletic Conference in 1955, competing for 34 years in the PAC.

“At Ƶ, students can pursue excellence in the classroom and on the playing field without sacrificing one for the other,” said Director of Athletics Brian Polian ‘97.

We work everyday to attract the type of student who wants an exceptional Jesuit education and who wants to compete at the highest level of Division III athletics. We believe today’s announcement aligns Ƶ with peer institutions that share a common mission and that attract students from across the country.
Polian

JCU Director of Athletics Brian Polian ‘97

Polian continued, “It is bittersweet to lose our OAC rivalries and we will work to keep some intact. However, we are excited about developing new rivalries in this new era for JCU athletics.”

The NCAC sponsors championships in 23 sports — 11 for men and 12 for women. The 12 women's sports are among the most offered by any Division III conference. The NCAC frequently enjoys success on a national stage. NCAC member institutions have collected 71 national team championships since the conference's first playing season in 1984-85.

NCAC

“We are thrilled to welcome our friends at Ƶ University to the North Coast Athletic Conference family,” said Keri Alexander Luchowski, Executive Director, NCAC.

We are excited about the new opportunities Ƶ brings to the NCAC and can’t wait for competition to begin. Ƶ’s commitment to all sports and its support for its student-athletes make it a first-class addition to our league. I look forward to seeing how they enhance our rich tradition and history as they move into full NCAC membership.

JCU Athletics is nationally competitive with top-30 finishes in the LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup in each of the last two years, along with 7 individual national championships, 55 individual All-Americans, and 29 NCAA Championship appearances since 2021.

Since joining the OAC, the Blue Streaks have captured 190 conference championships (combined men and women, regular season and tournament). Ƶ has also won 12 men's all-sports trophies, including each of the last eight.

NCAC

The decision to join the NCAC is another step in Ƶ University’s Inspired Futures strategy that includes the launch of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program – featuring two new Nursing labs – and the debut of a College of Health. Ƶ’s investment in healthcare will also include new majors in Public Health (2024), Healthcare Administration (2025), and Master of Science in Nursing (2025).

A three-year, $100 million investment in campus facilities kicked off in 2022 with renovations to the D.J. Lombardo Student Center, the Grasselli Library and Breen Learning Center, and multiple residence halls, and the construction of a state-of-the-art 100,000 square foot Athletic, Wellness and Event Center, scheduled to open in 2025.

“We are thrilled with the progress to date on the implementation of our Inspired Futures strategy,” said Miciak. "These investments in our student experience signal our desire to innovate and evolve with the focus always remaining on successful outcomes for our students."