It’s been three years in the making, but Flagler College finally has a conference for its athletic teams to call home. In December, the Peach Belt Conference announced that Flagler and the University of Montevallo had been accepted for membership in the league, which now totals 13 colleges and universities.
“I am thrilled that our college has been accepted for membership in the Peach Belt Conference, a well-established athletic conference with a solid record of competitive athletic programs at its member institutions,” said Flagler President Dr. William T. Abare Jr. “We are eager to compete against some of the top NCAA Division II programs in the nation.”
The Peach Belt Conference was formed in 1990, and its members have won 26 national championships. “This is one of the most important things that has ever happened to the Peach Belt,” said Conference Commissioner David Brunk. “It’s not just expansion in the number of schools we have. It’s bringing in two quality institutions that meet our academic criteria and provide real competition on the field.”
“The prospect of being in a conference will certainly enhance our athletic image,” said Flagler Athletic Director Dave Barnett. Flagler has already been competing in NCAA Division II, but until now has not had a conference affiliation. The college decided to make the move to the NCAA in 2005 after almost three decades in the NAIA.
Teams will now be able to compete for conference championships in the 2009-2010 season. Current members of the Peach Belt are: Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Ga.; Augusta (Ga.) State University; Clayton College and State University in Morrow, Ga.; Columbus (Ga.) State University; Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C.; Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville; Lander University in Greenwood, S.C.; North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega; the University of North Carolina at Pembroke; and the University of South Carolina at Aiken.
Flagler will be the only private school in the Peach Belt, as well as the conference’s only Florida school.
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