March 3, 2014

NJAC goes big for 2015


Could Wesley quarterback Joe Callahan be the NJAC player of the year in 2015?
Photo by Larry Radloff, d3photography.com

The New Jersey Athletic Conference is getting a lot bigger and a lot stronger in football in 2015, as Wesley, Salisbury, Christopher Newport and Frostburg State join the league, while Morrisville State moves to the Empire 8.

The additions, announced Monday, will return the NJAC to 10 teams and give the league a lineup of teams that have combined for 41 playoff appearances in the 15 years of the automatic bid era.

As the NJAC has tried first to gain, then maintain that automatic bid, it has welcomed associate members from Connecticut (Western Connecticut State) and New York (Brockport, Buffalo, Cortland and Morrisville State). But Western Connecticut left for easier competition in New England, Brockport and Buffalo will be in the Empire 8 this year and earlier this offseason, Cortland announced it was leaving for the Empire 8 as well. With this move, Morrisville State will join them.

The core members of the conference are all New Jersey state schools: Kean, Montclair State, Rowan, TCNJ and William Paterson. They will be joined by the five football-sponsoring members of the Capital Athletic Conference to form this super-sized league. Southern Virginia becomes an NJAC member starting with the 2014 season, with the rest joining in 2015.

For Wesley, it will be the first opportunity to compete for an automatic bid in football in the program’s history. As an independent, the Wolverines have had to schedule 10 non-conference games every year and played last year in Texas, Alabama, New Jersey and North Carolina. Now Wesley will need just one non-conference opponent each season.

Call it the New-JAC

The NJAC's 2015 alignment will feature three schools who have been to the playoffs eight or more times in the 15 years of the automatic bid era, and five schools who have participated in the NCAA playoffs six or more times since 1999. Their 2013 results: 

School W-L Conf W-L Overall Playoff appearances
Wesley 0-0 IND 10-3 0.769 10
Rowan 6-1 NJAC 9-3 0.750 8
Christopher Newport 5-2 USAC 8-2 0.800 9
Southern Virginia * 0-0 IND 8-2 0.800 --
Salisbury 5-2 E8 7-4 0.636 6
TCNJ 4-3 NJAC 5-5 0.500 1
Montclair State 3-4 NJAC 4-6 0.400 6
William Paterson 1-6 NJAC 3-7 0.300 0
Kean 1-6 NJAC 2-8 0.200 1
Frostburg State 0-7 E8 1-9 0.100 0
Southern Virginia is a provisional member of Division III.

“We are extremely excited about the future of our football conference with the addition of these tremendous programs,” said NJAC commissioner Terry Small. “Our presidents and athletic administrators have been seeking stability in terms of our football membership, and we now believe that we have assembled one of the strongest football conferences in all of NCAA Division III. By adding these quality programs and partnering with these outstanding institutions, we believe we have aligned many of the top Division III football programs in the region while helping to ease the burden of scheduling that all of the institutions have experienced throughout the years.”

Now spanning from northern New Jersey to southern Virginia, the new conference is only slightly more compact – the longest trip is the 412 miles from William Paterson to Southern Virginia – but it will be a significant improvement for Salisbury and Frostburg, who were members of the Empire 8 in football. Christopher Newport has remained a member of the USA South in football despite bolting the conference in other sports. And the five NJAC members who sponsor football will at least have a chance on paper at an automatic bid.

Football is a big driver of enrollment numbers for the two private schools in this league, Wesley and Southern Virginia. The NJAC's 100-man roster limit will be raised to include a 25-man developmental squad (junior varsity) to try to mitigate the effects of moving into the league.

The move also takes a little of the strength out of the Empire 8, taking Salisbury. But it also makes that league more compact, as the Empire 8 in 2015 will consist solely of schools in the Empire State, barring future moves. The 2015 Empire 8 lineup is Alfred, Brockport State, Buffalo State, Cortland State, Hartwick, Ithaca, Morrisville State, St. John Fisher and Utica. The E8 could add Division III provisional member Alfred State to get to an even 10 schools.

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
8:00 PM
Millsaps at Belhaven
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
TBA
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
TBA
Endicott at Framingham State
TBA
Kean at Christopher Newport
TBA
King's at Moravian
Live Stats
TBA
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
TBA
Marietta at Denison
TBA
McDaniel at Catholic
TBA
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
TBA
Sewanee at Kenyon
TBA
UW-Platteville at George Fox
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats
1:00 PM
RPI at Norwich
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
1:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Live Stats
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Live Stats
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
6:00 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Hanover at Centre
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
Dec. 18: All times Eastern
Final
Mount Union 49, at St. Thomas 35
@ Salem, Va.
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