The University will leave the Northeast Conference (NEC) and become a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) on July 1, 2013. The MAAC Council of Presidents invited MU to join the league after a meeting on Friday, December 14, 2013.
“Monmouth is flattered by the invitation to join the MAAC,” President Paul Gaffney said. “I thank the Council of Presidents for having confidence in us. While we have enjoyed our relationships with the Northeast Conference member institutions and our successes on the field, Monmouth is pleased with the opportunity to aim for new goals.”
The MAAC, founded in 1980, has the strongest television coverage of any mid-major conference in the country after partnering with ESPN to develop a league-wide national broadcast package for the next four and a half seasons. The MAAC broadcasts over 40 events annually, with a majority airing on ESPN3 as well as two regular season basketball games on ESPN or ESPN2. Eight regular season basketball games air on ESPNU. The Men’s Basketball Championship Final airs on ESPN2 and the Women’s Basketball Championship Final airs on ESPNU.
“In evaluating potential new member schools, the MAAC membership has sought to maintain a brand that stresses excellence in academics and athletics, and Monmouth University fully meets that criteria,” Richard J. Ensor, Commissioner of the MAAC, said. “The MAAC will be a great home for the Monmouth athletic program and the conference looks forward to its participation with the start of the 2013-14 academic year.”
The other schools in the MAAC are Canisius College, Fairfield University, Iona College, Manhattan College, Marist College, Niagara University, Quinnipiac University (also joining in 2013), Rider University, Saint Peter’s University and Siena College.
One of the MAAC’s goals is to seek out “institutions that feature basketball as a sport of emphasis, but support the MAAC’s core sports requirements including soccer, lacrosse and others.” Another goal is to seek out “institutions that have upgraded basketball facilities, have invested in hiring and supporting coaching staffs that strive for success on the court and in the classroom.”
The Hawks are exactly what the MAAC wants to see from these two perspectives. The $57 million Multipurpose Activity Center (MAC) that seats 4,100 was an upgrade of the basketball facility when it was opened less than four years ago.
Men’s basketball head coach King Rice proves that the university is invested in hiring strong coaching staffs. Rice, the former point guard at North Carolina, is exactly the type of person that the MAAC wants to see on the sideline.
The Hawks look to maintain a relationship with the NEC. “There is little doubt that Monmouth and our NEC friends will find ways to continue valuable competitions,” Gaffney said.
MU hoped to become an associate member of the NEC for football, field hockey and bowling, sports that are not a part of the MAAC.
“We are hopeful that we can apply and that is what we will do,” Monmouth Director of Athletics Dr. Marilyn McNeil said. “[We will] apply for associate membership in all three sports. We’ve been a charter member of the NEC in both football and field hockey and have had a great deal of success.”
“We’ve been honored with the highest academic metric for football in the Northeast Conference for the past two years,” McNeil added. “We really feel very confident that we would be a good and longstanding member of Northeast Conference football, field hockey and bowling. We will make the application for associate membership.”
The NEC denied MU’s associate membership for football and bowling.
The university will complete the 2012-13 academic year in the NEC and begin MAAC competition in 2013-14.