Courtesy of the Middle Atlantic Conferences
ANNVILLE, Pa.– The Middle Atlantic Conferences Executive Director Ken Andrews has announced that the conference will sponsor three new varsity sports beginning the 2017-18 season, including men’s and women’s ice hockey, and men’s volleyball.
Conference bylaws require that at least five of the conference’s member institutions offer a particular sport before it may become a conference-sponsored sport.
“The MAC is committed to being a national leader in expanding student opportunities for sport participation,” said Dr. Kent C. Trachte, Chair of MAC Executive Committee and President of Lycoming College. “The addition of these three sports reflects that commitment.”
The addition of these sports will increase the conference’s sponsorship to 27 varsity sports competing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III. The NCAA Division III currently sponsors 28 sports, leaving just women’s rowing off of the Middle Atlantic Conferences’ list of sponsored sports. No other conference sponsors as many Division III sports.
The conference will also increase its total team championships to 40 beginning in 2017-18.
“The MAC prides itself on offering competitive opportunities to a wide range of student-athletes. The addition of these three sports reinforces that principle as we now offer more NCAA Division III programs than any of the other 41 conferences,” said Ken Andrews, Executive Director of the MAC. “With the presidential approval of men’s volleyball and men’s and women’s ice hockey as conference sports, I anticipate many of our other institutions will soon include these programs in their sport offerings.”
The Middle Atlantic Conferences is comprised of three conferences known as the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC), Middle Atlantic Conference Commonwealth (MAC Commonwealth) and Middle Atlantic Conference Freedom (MAC Freedom). Men’s and women’s ice hockey, and men’s volleyball will compete in the MAC for a conference title.
All three sports will play a conference schedule with the best record in conference action earning the MAC title. There will also be an awards program containing players of the week, all-conference honors and academic awards for all three sports. The ice hockey teams will also compete in the United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) for a chance at an NCAA Division III Championship automatic qualifier (AQ). The men’s volleyball teams will do the same in their respective outside conferences.
All three sports will have five institutions sponsoring the sport by the 2017-18 athletic season.
The five institutions set to sponsor men’s and women’s ice hockey for the 2017-18 inaugural season of MAC ice hockey are King’s College, Lebanon Valley College, Manhattanville College, Stevenson University and Wilkes University.
Manhattanville has sponsored men’s and women’s ice hockey since the 1999-2000 season, with the men competing in NCAA Division III since 1999 and the women joining during the NCAA Division III’s inaugural season of women’s ice hockey in 2001-02.
The Lebanon Valley men’s program also began in 1999-2000 competing in NCAA Division III until the 2009-10 season. The Dutchmen will move back into NCAA Division III during the 2016-17 season after competing as a club team in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) Division I from 2010-11 to 2015-16. Lebanon Valley’s women’s program opens its inaugural season in 2016-17.
Stevenson’s women’s program began competing in 2012-13 in NCAA Division III. The Mustangs’ men’s program begins its inaugural season in 2016-17.
King’s and Wilkes both officially announced the addition of men’s of women’s ice hockey during the 2016 calendar year, and will both play its first season in 2017-18.
The first NCAA Division III men’s ice hockey champion was crowned in 1984, while the first NCAA Division III women’s ice hockey champion was crowned in 2002. The Manhattanville women are a three-time national runner-up in 2002, 2003 and 2008. The Manhattanville men were national semifinalists in 2007.