|Gwynedd Mercy athletics photo
Seven current Division III institutions received approval from the NCAA to form the new Atlantic East Conference and to begin competition beginning Sept. 1, 2018. The seven founding institutions of the Atlantic East include Cabrini, Gwynedd Mercy, Immaculata, Marymount, Marywood, Neumann and Wesley.
The conference's formation was first announced by D3sports.com in June of 2017. Five of the schools come from the current membership of the Colonial States Athletic Conference.
The Atlantic East is being formed to foster athletic competition and cooperation among academically selective, private colleges located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The geographic focus will bring together some of the top colleges in the region, while still allowing for a strong conference of like-minded institutions, all of which integrate competitive athletics into the student-athlete’s university experience.
The Atlantic East was a culmination of efforts by the presidents and athletic directors of the seven institutions and was an extremely collaborative effort. Matt Shank, president of Marymount and chair of the Atlantic East President’s Council said, “we are all excited to bring institutions together that share similar missions, values and beliefs along with the common understanding that athletics play an important role at our institutions.”
The combination of the AEC geographic footprint and the institutional focus of the schools offers each institution the opportunity to enhance the student-athlete experience. Charles Sack, athletic director at Neumann and chair of the Atlantic East Athletic Directors’ Council, stated, “The collegiality and vision of this group of institutions is very compelling. The geographic footprint combined with each institution’s effort to complement its academic mission with a vibrant and dynamic student-athlete experience is amazing and will be a point of difference as we move forward together.”
Arcadia, which was heavily involved in the conversations regarding the conference's formation, is still expected to join the AEC at a future date.
The Atlantic East will initially sponsor and host championships for 19 sports within the NCAA Division III. The search for a commissioner will begin on March 5, 2018.