GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – Wells College will join the North Atlantic Conference as an associate member in the sport of field hockey beginning in the 2016-17 academic year, Director of Athletics Michael Lindberg announced Thursday afternoon. The partnership will afford the Express an opportunity to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III field hockey tournament.
Prior to next season, Wells will join Keuka College and Wilson College as associate members of the North Atlantic Conference, combining to form the NAC West Division. NAC full members Castleton University, Colby-Sawyer College, Husson University, University of Maine-Farmington, New England College and Thomas (Me.) College will comprise the NAC East Division.
Each division will conduct regular season competition before holding divisional rounds of the NAC Tournament. The two divisional champions will square off to proclaim an overall NAC champion, who will then earn the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III field hockey tournament.
"The NAC continues to be a great sister conference for the NEAC," explained North Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner Candice Murray. "In terms of additional opportunities for our field hockey teams, I know that the NEAC student-athletes and coaches are thrilled about this new agreement and the opportunity to potentially advance to the NCAA Tournament."
"The NAC is pleased to welcome these three fine institutions to the conference as associate members in field hockey," said NAC Commissioner Julie Muller. "We strive to provide student-athletes with outstanding experiences, and ensuring continued access to the NCAA National Tournament is a priority for our member institutions. We have a rich tradition in field hockey, as well as a strong partnership with our NEAC colleagues, which combine to make this a win-win opportunity."
The new agreement with the North Atlantic Conference will run through at least the 2017-18 season with the option to renew following that year. The partnership is similar to the current NEAC and NAC partnership for men's and women's tennis.