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By Wesley Robinson

The nation's oldest historically black university announced it is withdrawing from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference and dropping its NCAA Division II status.cheyney logo2

Cheyney University President Aaron Walton said in a statement that the changes are essential if the university is to achieve financial sustainability. The changes will take place at the end of the academic year, and Walton added that they will remain in effect until the school achieves its financial objectives.

"These are extremely difficult but necessary decisions that are being made on behalf of our entire student population, and to help ensure the university's future," Walton said. "We want to continue to provide our student athletes the opportunity to participate as part of the overall college experience.

The university will seek to join another conference for men's and women's basketball and volleyball to develop a stronger, more sustainable program, officials said. The teams will operate under an independent status during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Cheyney has experienced declining enrolment, low graduation rates, a limited offering of undergraduate degrees, in addition to the poor financial situation. Last May, financial woes and administrative uncertainty put Cheyney's accreditation with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education in jeopardy for the second time in eight years, prompting many changes at the school.

Cheyney University suspended its football program in December after going 1-10 on the season. The program remains suspended until the university's financial position showed "significant improvement." University trustees were notified of the decisions during a meeting Tuesday (March 20).

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