SOMERSET, N.J. - The Northeast Conference is adding another member into its ranks - at least in some sports.
Howard University, a private, historically black university (HBCU) based in Washington, D.C., has accepted an invitation from the Northeast Conference’s Council of Presidents and will join the league as part of a six-sport associate member partnership the NEC announced on Monday.
The Bison will begin NEC competition during the 2020-21 season in men’s and women’s swimming. In 2021-22, Howard will join the conference in men’s and women’s soccer, women’s lacrosse and women’s golf. During the upcoming season, the Bison’s men’s soccer and women’s lacrosse programs will play in the Sun Belt and Atlantic Sun, respectively, while women’s soccer and women’s golf will compete independently.
Howard is currently a full-time member of the MEAC and will continue its membership with this conference change. Howard previously held associate membership in the Sun Belt in men’s soccer, the SWAC in women’s soccer and the A-Sun in women’s lacrosse.
“Howard University is pleased to become an associate member of the Northeast Conference,” Howard President Wayne A. I. Frederick said in a statement. “This move will significantly reduce the geographical footprint that our athletes must travel for games, which will have a positive impact on our travel expenses. I’d like to thank our former conference homes for these particular sports, the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Sun Belt, ASUN and the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association, for their previous support of our programs.”
The addition of Howard now brings the NEC to 10 full members (CCSU, Bryant, Fairleigh Dickinson, Long Island University, Merrimack, Mount Saint Mary's, Sacred Heart, St. Francis Brooklyn, Saint Francis (PA) and Wagner), as well as six associate members (Duquesne (football and women's bowling), Fairfield (field hockey), Hobart (men's lacrosse), Rider (field hockey) and Saint Joseph's (men's lacrosse)). The conference officially lost Robert Morris June 30 after the Colonials announced they were joining the Horizon League in 2020 and the Big South Conference as an associate member for football in 2020.
Under the agreement between the NEC and Howard, the league’s women’s swimming & diving membership will be boosted to 10 teams this coming year, while the Bison will join Bryant, LIU, Mount St. Mary’s and St. Francis Brooklyn for the inaugural season of NEC men’s swimming and diving this winter. Howard previously competed in the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) in both sports.
The NEC men’s and women’s soccer membership will now stand at 10 and 11, respectively, and the conference will feature a nine-team women’s lacrosse alignment, while women’s golf sponsorship rises to eight programs.
“The Northeast Conference is thrilled to develop this six-sport associate partnership with Howard University,” NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris said in a statement. “This arrangement will provide these six Bison teams with an improved student-athlete experience as it enables them to compete under one conference umbrella and it allows more advantageous travel from their Washington, D.C. campus. When we started to discuss this opportunity last January, Howard AD Kery Davis and I recognized that this was win-win endeavor, as it enhances these Howard sports programs and supports the NEC’s Strategic Plan adopted in June 2019, which seeks to increase brand awareness and support diversity, equity and inclusion. We look forward to welcoming the Bison men’s and women’s swim teams this year, and the remaining four teams in 2021-22.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org