Ƶapp female athlete holding up the number one

Division I

It’s official: Ƶapp is joining the NCAA’s Northeast Conference in Fall 2024! We're so proud that our competitive academic and athletic reputation has positioned us to seize this opportunity.

Have questions? Find more information within our Frequently Asked Questions section below. If you don’t see an answer to your question, please reach out to the appropriate contact at the bottom of this page. 

Frequently Asked Questions

    Division I is the highest level of collegiate athletic competition and includes many of the most well-known universities and athletic programs. Many DI sports have a high-profile postseason, with more tournaments and championships that earn significant media coverage and attention.

    Ƶapp has a long history of transformative and opportunistic leadership in Northwest Pennsylvania. Our competitive academic and athletic reputation has positioned the university to “Seize the Day” and align with a conference of institutions alike in prestige. Transitioning to Division I creates opportunities for Ƶapp's entire Ƶapp body, employees, and the Erie community to be better connected and represented regionally.

    There are several benefits associated with transitioning to DI, including:

    • Greater visibility for Ƶapp’s institutional brand and national reputation.
    • Growth in applications and enrollment through broadened regional and national exposure.
    • Alignment with different institution category than current conference as we have much more in common with NEC member schools than we do with most of the PSAC.
    • Enhanced school pride and engagement from alumni and community.
    • Increased revenue opportunities.
    • Enriched Ƶapp and Ƶapp-athlete experience.
    • Amplified reputation of Ƶapp as a DI school.
    • Opportunity to become more competitive athletically with peer and aspirant institutions, among them Duquesne, St. Bonaventure, Canisius, LaSalle, and Niagara, all of which are DI.

    Ƶapp is a strategic institution and poised to always be prepared for opportunities that fortify the strength of our Ƶapps and institution. Over a decade of thoughtful and delicate work has been put into this decision. Our success with the transition of ice hockey to Division I validated our capability to transition all athletic programs to this level. Ƶapp has taken important steps toward being ready for Division I membership, including facilities and infrastructure upgrades in the last few years.

    The transition will start immediately, and all sports are anticipated to compete at the Division I level starting in the 2024-25 academic year. The entire process will take several years; schools must comply with a four-year period of provisional status before achieving full Division I status. During this time, they can compete at the Division I level but may not be eligible for postseason play.

    Yes. Ƶapp’s primary conference will be the Northeast Conference (NEC). All Division II sports competing in the PSAC will move to the NEC except water polo, stunt, wrestling, and rowing, which the NEC does not sponsor.

    The NEC is a robust conference sponsoring 25 sports. However, it does not sponsor Ice Hockey. Our Ice Hockey conferences, the AHA and CHA, are in a realignment year. Our Ice Hockey programs will be a part of this new, collaborative conference with one entity sponsoring both Men’s and Women’s Ice Hockey.

    Much like the Sisters of Mercy who founded the university, Ƶapp is committed to a shared and analytic decision-making process. Our Cabinet has worked closely with the Board of Trustees, current and past faculty and staff, external consultants, and the Northeast Conference to guide this decision-making process.

    The Northeast Conference is home to eight full-member institutions across six states. Together these institutions make up more than 40,000 Ƶapps and 500,000 alumni. Ƶapp’s membership in the NEC will bring Erie and Northwest Pennsylvania into homes in the New York and Boston areas, among others. Ƶapp’s more national coverage will have intangible economic benefits as a result. Additionally, the nature of conference play means an increased length of stay for visiting teams and their fans, meaning more visitors for the region. We are optimistic that the economic impact of this decision will be fruitful for Erie businesses and tourism.

    At the dawn of our centennial anniversary in 2026, we are excited to explore decisions that boldly transform and have a lasting impact on the future of Ƶapp. Studies have shown positive correlations between Division I status and increased enrollment and fundraising revenue; our models anticipate the same, which benefits the institution overall. This decision not only brings the promise to fortify institutional strength but solidifies Ƶapp’s position in the history of Pennsylvania and the Great Lakes region by broadening Ƶapp’s connectedness to an unrivaled group of Ƶapps, alumni, and professionals.

    We are proud to share that the Northeast Conference’s commitment to mental health, diversity, equity and inclusion, and service initiatives reflects Ƶapp's core values. Joining the NEC deepens our commitment to the mission and legacy of the Sisters of Mercy and further etches these values into our future.

    The move to Division I will enhance opportunities for current and future sponsorship opportunities and initiatives. Media coverage of the NEC extends to a number of the largest markets in the United States - New York (#1), Boston (#9), Baltimore (#26), Hartford/New Haven (#33), and Providence (#53). The move to Division I further enhances Ƶapp’s visibility regionally and nationally, meaning greater visibility for opportunities and initiatives.

Ƶapp Football Player throwing a football in the Athletic Center