America East has lost one of its members to the Colonial Athletic Association, and the CAA football conference has added two schools.
Stony Brook (New York) will leave America East beginning July 1 and will join the CAA in all sports.
It is already in the CAA for football.
Meanwhile, Monmouth University in West Long Branch, New Jersey, and Hampton University in Hampton, Virginia, will join the CAA for football and expand the conference to 13 teams.
Stony Brook’s women’s basketball team is the defending America East Tournament champion and made its first NCAA tournament appearance last season. The Seawolves were the preseason favorite this year and are leading the conference.
They were the regular season champs two years ago but the championship game against the University of Maine was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The men’s basketball team has reached the NCAA tournament once and also earned two National Invitation Tournament berths the past 10 years.
The baseball team was the last team from the Northeast to reach the College World Series in 2012, ending a long drought dating back to UMaine’s last CWS appearance in 1986.
Stony Brook is a two-time winner of the Stuart P. Haskell Jr. America East Commissioner’s Cup, which is awarded to the school with the strongest athletic program as determined by a scoring system based on results during the regular season and playoffs.
It is named after the former UMaine athletic director who also served as the commissioner of the North Atlantic Conference, which became America East, as well as Hockey East.
Hartford is also leaving America East after this school year to drop to Division III so the league will be losing two teams in several sports, UMaine Director of Athletics Ken Ralph said.
The departures will leave America East with just five teams in softball, one below the number required by the NCAA to receive an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.
“But you get a two-year grace period to replace those schools and America East is always entertaining institutions in the region who could be tremendous members,” Ralph said.
“America East is still a good conference and I’m optimistic we will all come out of this in a good spot. I look forward to seeing how the league evolves.”
America East Commissioner Brad Walker said he was disappointed by Stony Brook’s decision but wished the Long Island-based school well in the CAA.
“America East remains well-positioned for its future,” Walker said. “The conference has withstood membership changes in the past.”
Walker praised the conference’s strong academic reputation and its great success athletically, “as evidenced through multiple individual national champions and Final Four appearances by teams in several sports. The future of the conference is bright and we will continue to pursue membership options that strengthen us even further.”
Monmouth and Hampton will join UMaine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Stony Brook, Villanova, Delaware, William and Mary, Richmond, Elon (North Carolina), Albany and Towson (Maryland) in the CAA football conference.
Perennial power James Madison (Virginia) left the CAA after this past season to go to the Sun Belt Conference, which is a Football Bowl Subdivision league.
James Madison and Villanova were co-champs this past season with each going 7-1 in conference play.
The changes in CAA football have left the conference without a season schedule yet, Ralph said.
“That’s incredibly unusual,” Ralph said of not having a schedule at this point in the year. “It’s really difficult to sell tickets and schedule Homecoming without one. It puts a lot of things on hold.”
The CAA is in the Football Championship Subdivision, whose schools have 22 fewer athletic scholarships than the FBS programs and much smaller football budgets.
During a Zoom conference on Tuesday, CAA Commissioner Joe D’Antonio said football teams will continue to play eight conference games.
He said discussions pertaining to the scheduling of league games and possibly going to a two-division format are ongoing and will be decided upon at a later date.
The teams were all in one division this past fall, as has been the norm.
Monmouth had been playing in the Big South Conference and earned three FCS playoff berths and two league championships since 2017. Monmouth went 7-4 this past season, 6-1 in the conference, but didn’t earn an FCS playoff berth.
Monmouth had been a member of America East in field hockey but will be moving to the CAA.
Hampton University has won five Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference titles including three in a row from 2004-06.
It has been in the Big South Conference in recent years and went 5-6 this past fall, 3-4 in the conference.