Catholic jumping to NEWMAC

Catholic University played a regular series with both Coast Guard and Merchant Marine in the 1990s and hosted Coast Guard again this season. But the drive to Maine Maritime is 11-plus hours, even in ideal Northeast Corridor traffic, and Norwich is nearly nine hours' drive from Washington, D.C.
Catholic University athletics photo

Starting in 2017, Catholic University will join the New England Women's & Men's Athletic Conference as in football, putting the Cardinals in on the ground floor of the new conference, which will be eligible for an automatic bid in 2019.

Catholic University president John Garvey and athletic director Sean Sullivan announced that CUA will join the Coast Guard Academy, Maine Maritime, the Merchant Marine Academy, MIT, Norwich, Springfield and WPI in the new league.

CUA has competed in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference since 1999 and will complete its 18-year stint in the league following the completion of the 2016 season.

"Our football program at Catholic University has a long and storied history. We are delighted to join such an impressive collection of institutions as an associate conference member," said Garvey. "The opportunity for our football team to compete in the New England and New York area, where so many of our alumni, current students and prospective students reside, is especially appealing. We are very grateful to the NEWMAC leadership and the member schools for this opportunity to join the conference. And we look forward to competing and collaborating with them for many years to come."

It is a return to the Northeast region for Catholic University, which does much of its recruitment of prospective students in the area. "Joining the NEWMAC represents a significant opportunity for our football program to compete against seven dynamic institutions while also supporting University-wide enrollment objectives. We feel honored to have been invited to become a member of a conference that has put its unique stamp upon Division III football along the eastern seaboard," said Sullivan. "It's tremendously satisfying to be able to add Washington D.C., to a desirable geographic footprint that includes northern New England, central Massachusetts, Boston and New York."

Presuming the rules regarding bids in football are not changed, the ODAC will retain its automatic qualification to the Division III football playoffs with seven members.

"Catholic University has truly benefited from associate membership in the ODAC as we have been able to compete against teams that play at such a high level," said head football coach Dave Dunn. "I will miss competing against a number of my friends and fellow head coaches as we have developed a great camaraderie over the years."

The 2017 lineup, as it stands right now, for conferences affected by the creation of the NEWMAC:

Anna Maria Hobart Curry Catholic Bridgewater
Becker Rochester Endicott Coast Guard
Emory & Henry
Castleton RPI Nichols MIT
Gallaudet Union Salve Regina Springfield
Husson St. Lawrence W. New England WPI
Mount Ida
  Maine Maritime
SUNY-Maritime     Merchant Marine
Washington & Lee
No change in AQ status. Would lose AQ in 2019. Would lose AQ in 2019. Would gain AQ in 2019. No change in AQ status.

"We deeply appreciate the relationships we have built throughout our time as an ODAC associate member. Our experience has been nothing but positive and we have great respect for the outstanding institutions throughout the conference," said Sullivan.

"This is an exciting move for our program. I feel that we are a school with many Northeast connections, but with a capital location, so this is a good fit for us," said Dunn. "Much of our recruiting is based throughout the region, so it's a great opportunity to be up there for our conference schedule and give our student-athletes a chance to play in front of their families and some of their teammates and opponents from high school. For many, it will be a bit of a homecoming."