By Daniel Whitehead
PITMAN, N.J.—The New Jersey Athletic Conference announced today that five current football members of the Capital Athletic Conference will compete in the NJAC beginning the 2015 season.
The five CAC schools slated to compete in the NJAC starting in 2015 include Christopher Newport University, Frostburg State University, Salisbury University, Wesley College and Southern Virginia University. The move became official following successful votes on each institutional membership application by both the NJAC Presidents Council and the league's Board of Athletic Administrators.
Southern Virginia had previously applied for, and was granted, affiliate membership for the 2014 season. The Knights will become associate NJAC football members starting the 2015 season.
"As we enter a new era of Southern Virginia athletics and football in particular, we are very excited about this announcement," said Southern Virginia athletic director Scott Y. Doxey. "We are excited that four other CAC schools have joined us. This brings the conference closer together and will make the NJAC even stronger and more competitive.
"The timing of this announcement coincides well with our current search for a new head coach to lead our football program. We are looking for someone who can lead our team into this league and compete. We are confident that we can find quality scholar-athletes from around the country who can help us create a competitive program."
Christopher Newport will compete for one more year in the USA South Athletic Conference while Frostburg State and Salisbury will play the 2014 season as members of the Empire 8. Wesley, playing as an independent team in recent seasons, will join its fellow CAC members as NJAC football associate members, beginning in 2015.
The five institutions, which will continue to compete as full members of the CAC in 21 other championship sports, will join The College of New Jersey (TCNJ), Kean University, Montclair State University, Rowan University and William Paterson University to form a 10-team football conference under the leadership of NJAC Commissioner Terry Small.
"We are extremely excited about the future of our football conference with the addition of these tremendous programs," Small said. "Our presidents and athletic administrators have always sought stability in terms of our football membership, and we now believe that we have assembled one of the strongest football conferences in all of NCAA Division III. By adding these quality programs and partnering with these outstanding institutions, we believe we have aligned many of the top Division III football programs in the region while helping to ease the burden of scheduling that all of the institutions have experienced throughout the years."
"This agreement not only satisfies the needs for some of our members that were looking for a long-term home conference for their football team, but has created arguably the deepest conference in terms of quality teams in NCAA Division III," CAC commissioner Tom Byrnes said. "Christopher Newport, Salisbury, Wesley and most of the NJAC schools have all had high levels of success and participated in the NCAA Championship tournament many times over the past decade. I don't know of any other conference that will be as deep in quality as this group."
In total, the 10 programs that will compete in NJAC football during the 2015-16 academic year have combined for 72 conference championships and 61 NCAA Tournament appearances.