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AUGUSTA, GA – The Peach Belt Conference, president Dr. David Potter and Commissioner David Brunk are pleased to announce that the University of Montevallo and Flagler College have been accepted for membership in the league. The PBC board of directors, comprised of the presidents of the 11 league members, voted unanimously to accept both schools and expand the league to 13 teams.

"We are pleased to welcome the University of Montevallo and Flagler College to the Peach Belt Conference," said Dr. Potter, president of North Georgia College & State University and serving as president of the PBC board of directors for 2008-09. "These two institutions bring a heritage of academic excellence and competitive athletics to our conference, making them a good fit with the Peach Belt philosophy of Division II athletics. We share a commitment to provide a broad educational experience for our student-athletes that challenges them to excel in their sports, in the classroom, and in their communities. These additions will strengthen the conference in pursuit of these goals."

Montevallo and Flagler will become full participating members of the Peach Belt for the 2009-10 season. As both schools are already full NCAA Division II members, no provisional period will be required and both will begin competing for PBC championships next fall.

"This is one of the most important things that has ever happened to the Peach Belt," said Brunk, who was named Commissioner in July 2007. "It is a signature day for us to welcome in Montevallo and Flagler, two institutions that fit perfectly with our existing membership and give our conference the opportunity to reach alumni and fans in places we have never been before. Its not just expansion in the number of schools we have, its bringing in two quality institutions that meet our academic criteria and provide real competition on the field."

Founded in 1991, the Peach Belt Conference has undergone several membership changes over the last five years, but the addition of Montevallo and Flagler will give the league 13 teams, the most it has ever had. Started with seven charter members, the Peach Belt grew to 12 members in 1997 and remained at that number for eight years. Kennesaw State and North Florida left the league in 2005 to move up to the Division I ranks and USC Upstate followed in 2007.

The PBC added North Georgia College & State University in 2005 and Georgia Southwestern State University in 2006 to bring its current number to 11.

"Since day one, expansion has been part of our long-term strategy," said Brunk. "It provides the Peach Belt the opportunity to reach into new states and new markets and to expose all of the new and exciting things we are doing as a conference to alumni and fans of both schools. We are always looking ahead as a conference and adding these two schools provides us stability and enhances our goal to be one of the elite Division II conferences in the nation."

Founded in 1968, Flagler College is located in St. Augustine, Fla. The school’s first building was Ponce de Leon Hall, built in 1888 and the first building in the state of Florida to be wired for electricity as installed personally by Thomas Edison. It is also listed on the National Register of Histor ic Places. Now celebrating its 40th anniversary, Flagler enrolls 2,537 students in a liberal arts curriculum.

The Flagler Saints began play in 1973, joining the NAIA in 1977 and winning seven national championships in men’ s and women’s tennis. The Saints made the move to NCAA Division II starting in 2002 and competed that transition in 2006. Flagler has been playing as an independent since completing the transition. As a member of the Peach Belt Conference, Flagler marks the league’s return to the state of Florida for the first time since North Florida moved to Division I in 2005. Flagler will also be the only private school in the PBC and the first to join since the conference’s constitution was changed to allow private schools to join in 2006.

Flagler’s 13 athletic programs will play in all 12 PBC championship sports. The Saints field men’s teams in baseball, basketball, cross country, golf, soccer and tennis while women’s teams compete in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball.

Founded in 1896, the University of Montevallo is Alabama’s only public liberal arts university. Located in the town of Montevallo, just south of Birmingham, UM is one of 25 members of the prestigious Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges. Known as Alabama College until 1969, the University of Montevallo enrolls approximately 3,100 students and offers 30 degree programs with 75 majors.

The Falcons’ athletic program began with baseball and men’s tennis in 1958 and expanded to cross country/track and basketball in 1964. UM played in the NAIA until making the transition to NCAA Division II in 1995 and joining the Gulf South Conference. As NCAA members, the Falcons have made men’s bas ketball Elite Eight appearances in 2006 and 2007, the baseball team competed in the world series in 2006 and the men’s soccer team made the final four in 2007. The school also moved into the 2,200-seat Student Activities Center in 2004-05 for basketball and volleyball. Montevallo becomes the first Alabama school to be a part of the Peach Belt Conference.

The Falcons also match up well with the PBC championship sports. UM fields men’s teams in baseball, basketball, golf and soccer and sponsors women’s basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis and volleyball.

The Peach Belt Conference is home to 26 NCAA Division II national championships including the Armstrong Atlantic State men’s and women’s tennis teams in 2008. Current members are Armstrong Atlantic, Augusta State University, Clayton State University, Columbus State University, Francis Marion University, Georgia College & State University, Georgia Southwestern State University, Lander University, North Georgia College & State University, University of North Carolina at Pembroke and the University of South Carolina Aiken.
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