The North Atlantic Conference is pleased to announce three new members of the conference, as confirmed by the NAC Council of Presidents. Cazenovia, SUNY Cobleskill, and SUNYIT will be full members of the conference effective July 1, 2020.
The new members bring the total number of full institutional members to 12, and allows for an east-west divisional competition schedule in most sports while shoring up access to the NCAA automatic qualification bid for several sports.
The three are currently members of the North Eastern Athletic Conference. After their departure, the conference will retain nine members: Gallaudet, Keuka, Lancaster Bible, Morrisville State, Penn College, Penn State-Abington, Penn State-Berks, Penn State-Harrisburg and Wells.
"We will look back positively on the many exciting moments and friendly rivalries built during our time in the NEAC," said Pete Way, Cazenovia athletic director. "We are excited about being affiliated with, and competing against, a group of institutions we are familiar with and have great respect for, and look forward to strengthening those relationships moving forward."
Commissioner Marcella Zalot is enthusiastic about the outlook for the conference. "The addition of our three new members achieves the first phase of our strategic plan to grow the NAC regionally. I am looking forward to working with them to shape the NAC vision and offer increasing transformational growth opportunities for our student athletes. I am excited for our future together."
All three schools sponsor 10 NAC sports - baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, softball, and women's volleyball. Cazenovia and SUNY Poly also sponsor women's lacrosse, while SUNY Cobleskill offers men's golf and men's and women's track and field. Each department supports teams outside NAC sponsorship as well.
"We are so pleased to welcome three strong institutions into the conference," said NAC President's Council Chair, Elaine Collins. "We were fascinated to learn about Cazenovia, SUNY Cobleskill, and SUNY Poly and their unique value as institutions of higher learning. Each school brings something truly special to the conference and will enhance the experience and opportunities for student athletes in the NAC."
Cazenovia Vice President for Planning & Institutional Effectiveness Dave Bergh noted, "The vision, and associated planning work, for the future of the NAC, as described by the conference leadership, was compelling, and was a major consideration in our decision to pursue membership."
"We are excited about being affiliated with, and competing against, a group of institutions we are familiar with and have great respect for, and look forward to strengthening these relationships," remarked Pete Way, Cazenovia athletic director.
"We are proud to join the NAC, and to continue to provide our student athletes with the opportunities they deserve to compete at the highest levels," said SUNY Cobleskill president Marion A. Terenzio. "At SUNY Cobleskill, we are committed to identifying ways in which all members of our campus community can elevate themselves and their performance. We are confident this move achieves that for our student-athletes, and Fighting Tiger athletics."
"We are confident that the philosophy of the North Atlantic Conference aligns with that of our college, department of athletics, and, most importantly, our student-athletes," added Vice President for development Anne Hopkins Gross. "We are appreciative of our years of participation in the NEAC, and look forward to entering competition in the NAC."
The Fighting Tigers became a full NCAA Division III member in 2012, and have since produced an NCAA Track & Field national champion and six NCAA All-Americans. They have also earned 21 conference championships, primarily in cross country and swimming and diving.
SUNY Polytechnic Institute is a globally recognized leader in higher education and technology innovation, research and development. SUNY Poly's five colleges offer studies in everything from nanoscience to engineering, business to natural sciences, and nursing to nanoengineering. These exciting, relevant programs are targeted to enable students to achieve success in growing 21st century career fields.
"We are impressed with the conference leadership and institutions that make up the NAC, and on behalf of SUNY Poly, we are proud to further our robust athletic programs within a conference that also emphasizes the importance of educational opportunities," said Grace Wang, interim president of SUNY Poly. "Our Wildcats have found a great new home as we continue to support our outstanding student athletes who represent us so well, and we look forward to what the future brings for our SUNY Poly's exciting athletic programs as part of the NAC."
SUNY Poly began its intercollegiate sports program in the early 1980s, practicing and playing at various venues in Utica and at the New York Mills School District's Beekman Gym until the Campus Center athletic facilities opened in late 1988. SUNY Poly was accepted as a Division III member of the NCAA in 1990. The college recently completed construction of a $20 million field house and lighted turf field. The field house is the new home for the Wildcat athletic programs and the campus intramural and recreation programs and features a state-of-the-art fitness center, two full-sized basketball courts and four volleyball courts, indoor practice facilities for all Wildcat teams, a running track, an expansive training room, team rooms, and offices for the athletics department's administrative staff and coaches, and more.
Marybeth Lyons, Vice President for Student Affairs, said, "This is exciting news for our Wildcats, especially because the NAC is committed to providing scheduling models that keep the focus on class time. Our successful intercollegiate sports program and our new conference are here to support our student athletes as they continue to excel in all aspects of student life, including in SUNY Poly's classrooms and labs."
The addition of Cazenovia, SUNY Cobleskill, and SUNY Poly continues the NAC's ongoing strategic initiative to build membership and provide high quality educational experiences for student athletes. SUNY Delhi begins competition as full members this fall, while the conference welcomed Maine-Presque Isle and SUNY Canton as full members in 2018-19, joining Maine-Farmington, Husson, and Northern Vermont-Johnson, Northern Vermont-Lyndon, Maine Maritime Academy, and Thomas.
The North Atlantic Conference was founded in 1997 as the North Atlantic Women's Conference, giving female student-athletes an opportunity to compete in a post-season tournament. The NAWC was then rebranded as the North Atlantic Conference in 1999. The NAC currently sponsors 16 men's and women's intercollegiate sports in Division III of the NCAA, including baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's golf, men's and women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's outdoor track & field and women's volleyball.