NEC Denies Associate Membership for Football

The Northeast Conference (NEC) Council of Presidents voted and did not allow the University to be an associate member for football and bowling.

“I’m not sure I was surprised [by the decision],” University Athletic Director Marilyn McNeil said. “I was disappointed. I thought that we had done all of the right things in terms of being a good member of Northeast Conference football and bowling. So I was disappointed. I thought we were given a little bit of a short trift on that one.”

“I think it did surprise me a little bit,” football head coach Kevin Callahan said. “I think Monmouth had been a long-standing and good member of the NEC since its inception.”

McNeil has her opinion as to why the NEC did not let MU become an associate member for football.

“I believe the conference felt that, or believed that, if they allowed a university to leave the conference as a full member and come back in football that that would perhaps spur other instutitions to do the same,” McNeil said.

With the NEC now in its past, the MU football program has to look towards it future.

“We haven’t been sitting around twiddling our thumbs,” McNeil said. “We knew this was a possibility and we’ve been reaching out to other conferences, hoping that somebody would have an interest. We’re getting some good feedback.”

Callahan looks at leaving the NEC as a positive. “I think it could create a lot of other opportunities for the football program and the University moving forward,” Callahan said. “We’re going to do our best to explore all of those opportunities.”

“I think any time you go into a new venture there is excitement that surrounds it. We don’t know quite where we are going yet, but I think it will be a positive thing for the football program and a positive step for the University,” Callahan added. 

The Hawks hope to find a new conference with an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I playoffs.

“That’s a recruiting issue and a University player issue,” McNeil said. “I want to be able to say to the football team, ‘You’re fighting for a bid into the championship.’ And I know they want to fight for that. We all want post-season experiences. So that [automatic playoff bid] is critical.”

There is no timetable for when the University expects to know which conference they are joining.

“I think there will be some cause for celebration sooner than later,” McNeil said. “As I said, I think the landscape is so dynamic right now that anything could change in the next 12 months and we would all be surprised, as usual.”