The ranks of the North Atlantic Conference will shrink by two additional teams beginning with the 2018-19 academic year with recent decisions by New England College and Green Mountain College to leave the league.
The combined departures will leave the NAC with just six full-time members — Husson University of Bangor, Maine Maritime Academy of Castine, Thomas College of Waterville, the University of Maine at Farmington and Vermont schools Lyndon State College and Johnson State College.
Conferences must have at least seven full-time programs to qualify its team champions for an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III championships, though the NAC would have a two-year grace period to get back to at least seven schools.
NAC commissioner Marcella Zalot said earlier this year that efforts to add new full-time members are underway.
New England College recently announced plans to join the New England Collegiate Conference beginning in 2018-19.
In a press release announcing the move, “the decision to join the NECC follows a lengthy evaluation process to ensure continued and sustainable success for NEC by aligning with other small private institutions in a more centralized geographic location.”
The NECC, established in 2007, is comprised of eight Massachusetts colleges: Bay Path, Becker, Dean, Eastern Nazarene, Elms, Lesley, Newbury and Wheelock, plus Southern Vermont College and Mitchell College in Connecticut.
Green Mountain College, of Poultney, Vermont, not only will leave the NAC but is departing the NCAA in 2018-19 as it pursues admittance into the newly formed Northeastern Intercollegiate Athletics Conference, part of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics.
Green Mountain has struggled competitively in the NAC. Last year the Eagles went winless in men’s soccer, women’s soccer and women’s basketball and won just one match in men’s lacrosse.
Charter members of the NIAC include the University of Maine at Fort Kent, which will hold dual affiliation in the NAIA and the U.S. Collegiate Athletics Association. Also in the new conference are Fisher College of Boston, Massachusetts, State University of New York at Delhi, Villa Maria College of Buffalo, New York, and the College of St. Joseph in Rutland, Vermont.
Castleton (Vermont) University announced earlier this year its plan to leave the NAC and join the Little East Conference, while Colby-Sawyer College of New London, New Hampshire, is set to join the Great Northeast Athletic Conference beginning in 2018-2019.