April 8, 2015
BOSTON–The Norwich University football program will usher in a new era starting in 2017 when it joins the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) as an associate member.
Norwich will join MIT, United States Coast Guard Academy, Springfield College, WPI, United States Merchant Marine Academy (Kings Point) and Maine Maritime to form the new league’s inaugural membership class.
“I am very pleased to be joining the NEWMAC as the schools represented here adhere to our values and are fine academic institutions that believe in Division III principles of being a student athlete with student first and athlete second,” said Norwich University President Dr. Richard W. Schneider. “We play sports at Norwich to build our student’s leadership skills and instill a sense of pride for our student body, alumni and friends.”
“This conference also allows us to continue long held rivalries, especially with our sister military institutions. All the institutions in this conference believe as we do that you are not passing the football if you are not passing your academic courses! It is the best of college athletics. Of course, I am personally thrilled to compete with my alma mater, the Coast Guard Academy, as well as to establish new regional rivalries.”
The formation of the NEWMAC will be a reunion for Norwich, Coast Guard, Springfield, WPI and Merchant Marine Academy, who all used to be members of the Freedom Football Conference, which was in existence from 1992-2003.
“I am extremely excited for Norwich football to be a part of the NEWMAC football conference,” said NU Director of Athletics Tony Mariano. “To be able to compete against the high quality of institutions and football programs in this league will further engage alumni and the campus community in what promises to be spirited and sportsmanlike competition.”
“It has always been our goal to be able to compete with USCGA, Merchant Marine and Maine Maritime on a yearly basis and it is very important to our university and our alumni. This is an exciting time for Norwich football and I look forward to the start of the NEWMAC football conference.”
Norwich will remain in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) for the 2015 and 2016 seasons, before moving to a full NEWMAC league schedule in 2017. The NEWMAC will not be eligible for an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Tournament until 2019, per the NCAA’s by-laws for new leagues.
Norwich was a founding member of the ECFC, which began play in 2009. The Cadets won two league titles in 2009 and 2011 and made one NCAA Tournament appearance in 2011. NU has made the postseason six straight years with four ECAC Bowl appearances, one ECFC Championship game and the program’s inaugural trip to the NCAA playoffs.
“The opportunity to represent Norwich University as an affiliate member of the NEWMAC is exciting to the athletes and coaches of our football team,” said NU head coach Mark Murnyack. “This change comes with an expression of gratitude to NEWMAC for their welcome to a conference renowned for student-athletes like our own, who strive for excellence; compete with integrity; and display respect in all that they do.”
“I am mindful of our path to reach this point and forever grateful for the many opportunities, the outstanding competition and the lasting relationships made in the ECFC. Not often do you get the chance to return where you started; I feel as if we are doing this now with Norwich’s move to the NEWMAC. (Old Freedom Football Conference) Schools in this conference are outstanding both athletically and academically, and we look forward to a new beginning that will provide even stronger opportunities for development, growth and leadership of our current team and future players while engaging our fan base as we tackle old rivalries.”
The seven football-playing members of the NEWMAC have combined to go to 13 NCAA Tournaments and have played in 22 ECAC Championship Bowl Games. The NEWMAC will also be looking to add an eighth team prior to beginning play in 2017.
Norwich is coming off a 7-4 season and an ECAC Northeast Bowl Game appearance vs. Salve Regina. The Cadets are 44-21 over the past six seasons, which ranks as the third most wins out of all New England Division III football schools.
“It gives me great pleasure to officially welcome Norwich University to the NEWMAC as associate member in football,” said NEWMAC Executive Director Patrick B. Summers. “It was clear that Norwich’s desire to uphold the NEWMAC’s dedication to both academic and athletic excellence was sincere and made it an ideal fit as a pioneering member for the football conference.”
Norwich will still look to maintain its budding intrastate rivalry with Castleton as a non-league game once the Cadets move to the NEWMAC in 2017. NU opens its 122nd football season on Sept. 5 when it travels to RPI.