The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Presidents' Council has confirmed the acceptance of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Canton and the University of Maine at Presque Isle (UMPI) as full members of the conference, effective July 1, 2018. SUNY Canton and UMaine-Presque Isle will begin competition as members of the NAC beginning in the 2018-19 academic year along with the University of Maine at Farmington, Husson University, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College, Maine Maritime Academy, and Thomas College.
"Together with fellow NAC presidents I am delighted to welcome both SUNY Canton and UMPI into the North Atlantic Conference," said Dr. Kathryn A. Foster, President of the University of Maine at Farmington and chair of the NAC Presidents' Council. "I know from the application process and speaking to the Presidents of both institutions that these entrants are firmly committed to the NAC's emphasis on a student-centered mission, placing greatest priority on academics."
"The addition of Canton and UMPI," added Foster, "fulfills an ongoing strategic initiative by the NAC Presidents' Council to expand conference membership and provide the highest-quality experience for our institutions, athletic programs and student-athletes. Our mission and core values are central to our membership, and we were fortunate to find members who share a commitment to our principles."
Canton and UMaine-Presque Isle will be the first new core members of the NAC since 2011. The announcement culminates the first phase of a reorganization of the conference's membership that will provide an appropriate balance of schools with similar missions and levels of competition.
"The NAC is thrilled to welcome both Canton and UMPI into the conference beginning in 2018-19, as both institutions align with the NAC's core values and mission" said NAC Commissioner Marcella Zalot. "Throughout the application process, it was clear that these two institutions are committed to their athletic programs, student-athletes and athletics staffs. I am excited to work with them as the NAC strategically charts our course of action for the future. These two institutions will make the NAC stronger."
SUNY Canton was originally chartered in 1906 and in 1987 the State University of New York's Board of Trustees authorized the college's present designation as State University of New York College of Technology at Canton. There is a rich history of past athletic success, while seeing considerable growth in the past few years, adding six sports since 2011 and more than doubling the number of student-athletes. In 2015, the College was approved for full membership status in the NCAA Division III.
"SUNY Canton is excited to be joining such an outstanding, competitive and well-respected conference," said SUNY Canton President Dr. Zvi Szafran. "We appreciate the fantastic leadership of Commissioner Marcella Zalot and her guidance throughout this process, and we are particularly thrilled with the conference's student-centered philosophy."
Canton sponsors 15 intercollegiate sports at the DIII level of the NCAA (seven men's and eight women's), 12 of which align with current NAC sponsorship. The Kangaroos will compete in the NAC in 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, and women's volleyball.
"It's an honor to join this group of outstanding schools and athletic programs," stated SUNY Canton Athletic Director Randy Sieminski. "We look forward to regularly competing in the NAC next year and providing our student-athletes with the opportunities and benefits of belonging to such a strong, student-focused conference."
The University of Maine at Presque Isle was founded in 1903 as the Aroostook State Normal School by the Maine State Legislature following the work of dedicated citizens who saw the growing need for post-secondary education in central Aroostook County. The University has undergone four name changes and since 1971 the University has been known as the University of Maine at Presque Isle.
"The University of Maine at Presque Isle is especially pleased to have been invited to join the North Atlantic Conference as a full member and look forward to competing with its outstanding men's and women's teams," said UMaine-Presque Isle President Raymond J. Rice. "We feel that the NAC is a perfect fit with our institutional mission to develop talented and dedicated scholar-athletes as a NCAA Division III college and we are thrilled to provide the NAC another collegial and competitive venue for outstanding games and matches."
The University sponsors 12 intercollegiate sports at the DIII level of the NCAA (six men's and six women's), all of which align with current NAC sponsored sports. The Owls will compete in the NAC in baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's golf, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's outdoor track and field and women's volleyball.
UMaine-Presque Isle Athletic Director Dan Kane stated that, "The NAC is a well-run organization that aligns well with our athletic and academic values and philosophy at the University of Maine at Presque Isle. We couldn't be more excited for our student-athletes and coaches to be able to compete against the great teams of the NAC starting in the fall of 2018."
The NAC was founded in 1997 as the North Atlantic Women's Conference (NAWC), 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 17 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, field hockey, 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.