Story by Comprehensive Athletics Consulting LLC
The improbable collaboration of five institutions with varying athletic association affiliations working together to form and compete under the umbrella of one strong intercollegiate athletics conference has come to fruition. Due to the changing landscape of college athletics conference and association affiliations over the past several years, many small college athletics programs in the New York and New England area found themselves without a conference in which to compete. After nearly two years of discussions with more than a dozen institutions, the formation of the Northeastern Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (NIAC) has become a reality.
The NIAC’s charter members include Fisher College of Boston (Mass.), the University of Maine – Fort Kent, State University of New York (SUNY) Delhi, Villa Maria College of Buffalo, N.Y., and College of St. Joseph in Rutland, Vt. CSJ, Villa Maria, and UMFK are all members of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), while Fisher College is a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), and SUNY Delhi holds dual affiliation in both the USCAA and the NAIA. Typically, athletics conferences are made up of institutions that all hold the same association affiliation, so the NIAC represents a creative and unique endeavor on the part of these institutions. It is expected that all member institutions will move towards holding dual affiliation in both the NAIA and USCAA in the future.
Bob Backus, director of athletics at SUNY Delhi and newly-elected president of the NIAC, sees great benefits coming from the formation of the new conference. "On behalf of the institutions that worked collectively to form this new and unique (USCAA / NAIA) athletics alliance, this is an exciting venture for the overall benefit and promotion of our student-athletes,” said Backus. “The Northeastern Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (NIAC) inaugural members are looking forward to starting official conference play in the Fall of 2017."
With facilitation from Comprehensive Athletics Consulting, the athletics directors and other administrators from the member institutions have coordinated with the national offices of the NAIA and USCAA, to formulate this much-needed small college athletics conference for institutions in the northeast. The conference is hoping to grow its membership to at least eight institutions within the next two years.
As Backus noted, the conference will indeed begin competition in the Fall of 2017. Conference tournament dates and locations have already been determined: SUNY Delhi will host the NIAC Championships for Men’s and Women’s Golf (October 1-3, 2017), Men’s and Women’s Cross Country (October 28, 2017), Volleyball (October 28-29, 2017), Men’s and Women’s Tennis (April 21-22, 2018) and Men’s and Women’s Track & Field (April 28, 2018). UMFK will host the championships for Men’s and Women’s Soccer (October 28-29, 2017). College of St. Joseph will host the championships for Men’s and Women’s Basketball (February 17-18, 2018). Fisher College will host the conference championships for Baseball and Softball (April 28-29, 2018), while Villa Maria College will host the conference championship for Bowling at a date to be determined.