The four New England football conferences which are eligible for postseason play are teaming up to create their own bowl series, pulling their teams from the ECAC bowl structure.
The Eastern Collegiate Football Conference, the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference, the New England Football Conference/Commonwealth Coast Conference and the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference will be teaming up to present the Inaugural New England Bowl on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, the commissioners of the four conferences announced.
Each of the 27 football-playing institutions from those conferences will be eligible to declare their intent to participate in the 2016 New England Bowl. The ECFC, MASCAC, NEFC/CCC and NEWMAC commissioners will select the two opponents - and the host institution - following the announcement of the 32-team NCAA Division III playoff field on Sunday, Nov. 13.
Last year, the top two teams in the Centennial Conference and the Middle Athletic Conference which finished out of the playoffs met in the Centennial-MAC Bowl Series.
In 2016, teams competing in the ECFC, MASCAC and NEFC, as well as NEWMAC teams competing in other conferences based outside the traditional New England footprint will be eligible to declare their intent to participate in the New England Bowl. In 2017, the NEFC will be rebranded as CCC Football, while the NEWMAC will offer football for the first time.
"The Division III New England Commissioners Association is committed to working together to provide opportunities for our student-athletes that will enhance their experiences at our member institutions and the New England Bowl is the beginning of that collaboration," stated NEWMAC Executive Director Patrick B. Summers. "Our hope is to continue to engage our membership and develop additional programming and opportunities for student-athletes, coaches and administrators."
Criteria that will be used by the four commissioners to select the New England Bowl participants from declared teams with an overall winning percentage of .667 or higher will include overall record, conference record, conference standing, head-to-head results, and results versus teams selected for the NCAA Tournament.
"Division III football in New England has a long and storied tradition," added NEFC and CCC Commissioner Gregg M. Kaye. "The opportunity for student-athletes to share a postseason experience with their teammates is an important achievement that remains with participants in all sports well beyond their collegiate years. As conference commissioners, we are committed to ensuring special participation opportunities for the student-athletes we are privileged to serve."
The four commissioners have partnered with Learfield Sports to develop the inaugural New England Bowl logo and will be exploring additional sponsorship, marketing and merchandising opportunities in the coming weeks. Revenue generated from the game will help offset costs incurred by the host institution and travel costs incurred by the visiting team. A live internet broadcast and a partnership with a local charitable organization are under development.
"The New England Commissioners are excited to partner with Learfield Licensing for the New England Bowl," stated MASCAC Commissioner Angela Baumann. "Learfield has been integral in the branding of the MASCAC and our members and we look forward to using their expertise to enhance our student-athletes experience in this inaugural bowl game."
Based on the success of the inaugural New England Bowl and the positive experience of competing student-athletes, the four commissioners expect to expand the concept into two annual bowl games, possibly conducted at neutral sites, as early as 2017.
"The New England Football Commissioners are pleased to bring a bowl game to New England for our deserving student-athletes," added ECFC Commissioner Katie Boldvich. "Our group is excited to provide a first-rate championship experience to our members and continue to enhance the experience for participants for years to come."