The Point Park athletic department has begun the process of moving up in classification from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics level to NCAA Division II.

The move to begin competing at the Division II level would be finalized in July — in time for the 2024 fall sports season to begin — pending approval by the NCAA, according to a release sent Tuesday afternoon by Point Park University.

“Joining the NCAA would undoubtedly raise the profile of Point Park, attaching an additional layer of prominence to both our university and its athletic programs,” said university president Dr. Chris W. Brussalis in the release.

Point Park would compete in the Mountain East Conference, which currently has 11 member schools in West Virginia, Ohio and Maryland.

“We are thrilled to extend an invitation of membership to Point Park University, to return the MEC to 12 full-time members in the 2024-25 season,” MEC Commissioner Reid Amos said. “As we worked with our MEC Membership Committee this fall, Point Park continued to emerge as an outstanding fit, with an athletic department that we believe will be highly competitive in the MEC.

“The strategic vision for Point Park’s academic and athletic future, led by President Brussalis, gives us great confidence that Point Park is well-positioned to successfully transition to NCAA Division II and to become a valued member of the Mountain East Conference.”

Point Park currently competes in the NAIA’s River States Conference, which includes 14 universities located in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana.

The River States Conference sponsors championships in 17 sports.

As a member of the MEC, Point Park is initially planning to participate in 15 of the conference’s 23 sports before adding four additional athletic offerings over the next two years, the release said.

“Pursuing NCAA membership is a complex and rigorous process that will continue throughout the spring semester and into the summer,” Brussalis said in the release. “As part of that process, we will assess our programs and operations and develop plans to improve what we do and how we serve our student athletes.”

The release said travel time for Point Park’s athletes will be reduced by 65% by competing in the MEC while also bringing a higher level of competition for its student athletes.

“The MEC is one of the most respected NCAA Division II conferences in the country,” Brussalis said. “We would give the conference a Pennsylvania member, and all of our conference opponents would be much closer to our campus.”

The MEC member schools currently include Concord, West Liberty, Davis & Elkins, Fairmont State, Charleston, West Virginia State, Wheeling, West Virginia Wesleyan and Glenville State in West Virginia; Frostburg State in Maryland; and Notre Dame College in Ohio.

Point Park currently competes in baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and track & field in men’s sports, in addition to basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, track & field and volleyball in women’s competition. The university also offers co-ed competitive cheer, competitive dance and e-sports teams.

While the university begins the NCAA membership process, it will do so without its athletic director.

Point Park University vice president of student affairs/ dean of students Keith A. Paylo said in a recent email addressed to the “university community” that athletic director John Ashaolu had resigned.

“Leading the way for a long and sustained run of success has been John Ashaolu, our athletic director,” the email stated. “So, it is with regret that I announce that John has made the decision to resign and pursue other opportunities. I am grateful for his work in advancing athletics at Point Park and his advocacy and support for our student athletes. Point Park wishes John the very best, and I know he will continue to find professional success.”

Kevin Taylor, Point Park associate athletic director/director of athletic communications, declined further comment, citing personnel issues.

John is a copy editor and page designer at the Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at

John Santa

John is a copy editor and page designer at the Post-Gazette, but he's currently on strike. Email him at