POULTNEY— Green Mountain College President Bob Allen announced on Wednesday that the college’s athletic affiliation with the North Atlantic Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) will end after the 2017-18 academic year.
Green Mountain is currently pursuing admittance into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) with the intention of joining the newly formed Northeastern Intercollegiate Athletics Conference (NIAC) for the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year. In preparation for a move to the NAIA, the athletic department will submit the requisite application and await a response from the NAIA’s administrative powers. In such a move, GMC would reduce the number of its sports offerings and prepare a model for the distribution of athletic scholarships.
“Our student-athletes are highly valued at Green Mountain and it is important to provide a positive collegiate sports experience,” said Allen. “While the decision to change conferences was a difficult one, we are confident this change will positively impact our players and athletics program. The move is being made to bring the college’s athletics program to an arena in which its student-athletes can be more competitive against other like-minded schools that are similar to GMC in size, budget and facilities. Our student-athletes will benefit from a great fit in terms of the level of competition and playing against schools similar in nature to GMC.”
“We are very grateful for the past nine years of membership in both of the North Atlantic Conference and NCAA and look forward to continuing our membership through the 2017-18 academic year,” said Director of Athletics Kip Shipley. “Both associations have provided Green Mountain College and our student-athletes a wonderful platform for competition and we will be forever thankful for our affiliation with them.”
With a potential move back to the NAIA, Green Mountain would be returning to competition under a sport governing body where it achieved tremendous success from the late 80s through the 90s and into the early 2000s. Throughout that time, Green Mountain teams won over 45 conference championships and nine regional championships.
“We are pleased about having the chance to return to the forum in which so many of our alumni are familiar and enjoyed great success,” said Shipley. “The NIAC would offer an excellent opportunity for the growth of Green Mountain athletics. Joining the NIAC would provide fantastic competitive opportunities while easing some of the financial responsibilities associated with being an NCAA Division III member.”
The NIAC already boasts charter members Fisher College of Boston, the University of Maine-Fort Kent, State University of New York-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.