On behalf of the MAAC Council of Presidents and the Committee on Athletic Administration I am pleased to announce that Monmouth University has been offered and has accepted membership in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference starting on July 1, 2013.
The MAAC's expansion discussion have been ongoing for some five year since the league issued a strategic plan that called for a goal of having a 12 school conference model a long-term goal. This was before the current realignment atmosphere that has seen 25 of the NCAA's 31 conferences undergo membership changes. Certainly, when the MAAC experienced a loss of a member school in August, expansion became a higher priority, but the groundwork of what the conference wanted in the expansion process had been put in place. The goals included seeking out:
- Institutions that strive for success in academics and athletics
- Institutions that share admissions standards with MAAC schools
- Institutions that desire to expand their enrollment base beyond traditional local markets
- Institutions that fund athletic programs within the same general expenditure range
- Institutions that place a focus on student-athletes, their welfare and growth as individuals
- Institutions that feature basketball as a sport of emphasis, but support the MAAC's core sports requirements including soccer, lacrosse and others
- Institutions that place value and have a commitment towards broadcasting their sports on ESPN and support webcasting of sports in general
- Institutions that have upgraded basketball facilities, have invested in hiring and supporting coaching staffs that strive for success on the court and in the classroom and
- Institutions that understand the value of branding and would share a mutual commitment with the other member schools to improving the MAAC brand.
As I commute on the Parkway in the evening I listen to the NPR Marketplace Show where they often ask CEO's to describe their company brand in 5 words. As I hear that I note that's easy for the MAAC, "Excellence in Academics and Athletics". The MAAC membership has sought to maintain a brand that stresses excellence in academics and athletics and Monmouth University fully meets that criteria.
As a son of the Jersey Shore, growing up in Bricktown, summer on the Manasquan beaches and high school in Toms River at what is now Monsignor Donovan H.S., and now having raised a family in Lacey Township, I have long been familiar with Monmouth University and its growth as a leader in education and athletics in New Jersey. I've read the Asbury Park Press my whole life and often told the MAAC staff than I knew more about the Monmouth athletic program's daily successes than many of the MAAC's.
This knowledge only grew more in depth as I had the opportunity to serve for 5 years with Marilyn McNeil on the NCAA Women's Basketball Committee where we sometimes butted heads, but more often fought for the mid major agenda on the committee. No one is a stronger advocate for Monmouth athletics than Marilyn and when expansion became an active agenda item in the MAAC she was one of the first persons I reached out to for a membership discussions. Expansion is a business decision, but personal relationships often open the door for that decision to occur. It certainly was a factor in this case.
I want to thank President Paul Gaffney for his interest in the MAAC and for all his hard work throughout the expansion process and I welcome the Monmouth University coaches, student-athletes and staff to the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.