The North Atlantic Conference (NAC) and the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) have announced an agreement to align their respective baseball championships, beginning in the 2019 season.
The two-year agreement (2019 & 2020) will see the NAC and CUNYAC complete separate regular-season schedules and determine their individual champions by virtue of each conference's postseason tournament. The winner of each conference tournament will then compete for an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship.
The two league champions will 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 tentatively scheduled for Friday, and a maximum of two games tentatively scheduled for Saturday. A rain date would be set for that Sunday, with the complete schedule subject to change.
"I want to thank Zak Ivkovic for his leadership in working with us, and to the athletic administrators and presidents for their work to make this a reality," said NAC Commissioner Marcella Zalot. "Playing for the right to participate in the NCAA Tournament, and then actually playing in the NCAA Tournament, are both very special experiences for student-athletes, coaches and programs. I am pleased that NAC institutions will continue to have access to this experience and that CUNY institutions will now have the opportunity for this type of experience in the sport of baseball. The NAC and CUNY are poised to be great partners."
The North Atlantic Conference champion will host the inaugural title game in 2019, while the CUNY Athletic Conference is slated to host in 2020.
"We are beyond excited for this tremendous opportunity to partner with the NAC and for our baseball student-athletes to be able to play, not just for the CUNY Championship, but also for a chance to automatically qualify for NCAA's," said CUNYAC Executive Director Zak Ivkovic. "We are also appreciative of the tremendous support of both presidential groups to make this venture a reality."
NCAA Division III rules stipulate that a conference needs seven members in each team sport to receive an automatic qualifier to the national 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.
The five NAC schools that sponsor baseball are the University of Maine at Farmington, Husson University, Northern Vermont University-Lyndon, the University of Maine-Presque Isle and Thomas College. SUNY Canton is set to join the NAC in baseball for the 2020 season.
Meanwhile, the five schools that compose the CUNY Athletic Conference in baseball are Baruch College (New York, N.Y.), City College of New York (New York, N.Y.), John Jay College (New York, N.Y.), Lehman College (Bronx, N.Y.) and College of Staten Island (Staten Island, N.Y.).
--Portions courtesy of Ian Schraier, CUNYAC Assistant Director for Strategic Communications