STATEN ISLAND, NY | The City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) and North Atlantic Conference (NAC) have come to an agreement to merge their respective baseball leagues, with the winner of the conference playoff receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship, beginning with the 2019 season.
The two-year agreement will see the CUNYAC and NAC play their regular-season schedules separately, and determine their individual champions, by virtue of each conference’s postseason tournament. The two league champions will then meet on the second weekend of May in a best-of-three series, with the winner advancing to the NCAA Tournament. The format will include a single game on Friday, and a maximum of two games on Saturday. A rain date is set for that Sunday, with the schedule subject to change.
“We are very excited for our student-athletes to now have an opportunity to play in the postseason beyond the CUNYAC Tournament,” said CSI Director of Athletics Charles Gomes. “Certainly, without the leadership of CSI President William Fritz and the rest of the CUNYAC Presidents this opportunity would have never been possible. We have been working for many years for this and to make it a reality is a very gratifying feeling for all of us within the conference.”
The North Atlantic Conference’s champion will host the inaugural title game in 2019, while the CUNYAC is slated to take hosting duties in 2020.
“We’ve been waiting 11 years for this. It’s exactly what we’ve all been waiting for and deserve,” said CSI Head Coach Michael Mauro, whose team has won the last four CUNYAC Championships. “We’ve been playing for a trophy for many years and this gives all the kids something elevated to play for and it’s just great. It makes all of the hard work put in by the coaches and players worth it. Even our past players will enjoy this, and I know they’ll cheer us on because they wanted this for a long time. I know we are all very thankful for the work the conference offices have done along with the campus Presidents and Athletic Directors. It really is a dream come true.”
The NCAA Division III rules stipulate that a conference needs seven members in each team sport to receive an automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament. Each conference currently has five programs that sponsor baseball, as of the 2019 season, necessitating this creative merger to grow the sport of baseball for the two conferences. Because of the postseason changes, the customary double-elimination CUNYAC Tournament of previous seasons will be substituted with a best-of-three series between the top two CUNYAC regular season finishers on the weekend of May 3-4.
The five North Atlantic Conference schools are Husson University (Bangor, MA), Lyndon State College (Lyndonville, VT), University of Maine-Farmington (Farmington, MA), University of Maine-Presque Isle (Presque Isle, MA) and Thomas College (Waterville, MA). SUNY Canton (Canton, NY) is set to join the NAC in 2019-20.
Meanwhile, the four other schools that compose the CUNYAC in baseball are: Baruch College (New York, NY), City College of New York (New York, NY), John Jay College (New York, NY), and Lehman College (Bronx, NY).
– Portions of this story courtesy of the City University of New York Athletic Conference