The MAAC Story: Excellence in Academics & Athletics
With 11 institutions strongly bound by the sound principles of quality and integrity in academics and excellence in athletics, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference is in its 34th year of competition during the 2014-2015 academic year.
The MAAC was founded in 1980 by six charter members: the U.S. Military Academy, Fairfield University, Fordham University, Iona College, Manhattan College and Saint Peter's College. Competition followed one year later in the fall of 1981 with members competing in the sports of men's cross country and men's soccer. On January 2, 1982, Army traveled to Iona for the first MAAC men's basketball game and the MAAC story had begun.
Current Conference members include: Canisius College, Fairfield University, Iona College, Manhattan College, Marist College, Monmouth University, Niagara University, Quinnipiac University, Rider University, Saint Peter's University, and Siena College. In addition, associate members include the University of Detroit Mercy in men's lacrosse and Jacksonville University in men’s rowing; St. Francis (N.Y.) College, Villanova University, Virginia Military Institute and Wagner College are all associate members in Women's Water Polo. Drake University, Jacksonville University, Robert Morris University, Sacred Heart University, and Stetson University compete in women's rowing, while the University at Albany, University of Dayton and the University of Hartford take part in women’s golf competition. Bryant University, and Sacred Heart University compete in field hockey, while Bryant University is a member in men’s swimming & diving. The MAAC will support 25 sports and championships during the 2014-2015 academic year; in addition, the MAAC champion earns automatic qualification to the NCAA Championship in 16 sports.
The MAAC Basketball Championships return to the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. after a three-year stint in Springfield, Mass. at the MassMutual Center from 2012-2014. The 2015 MAAC Basketball Championships will mark the 16th time that Albany has hosted the championships with the most recent one being in 2010. By having an excellent working relationship with various facilities, the MAAC has been able to attract a number of NCAA Championship events. Most recently, the MAAC along with Canisius College and Niagara University successfully hosted the 2014 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Second and Third Rounds at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, N.Y., marking the fourth time that all three parties partnered for this same event (2004, 2007, and 2010). The MAAC and Fairfield University hosted the 2013 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Regional at Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT. The MAAC and Rider University hosted the 2012 NCAA Rowing Championships at Lake Mercer in West Windsor, New Jersey and also co-hosted the 2011 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. The MAAC and Rider University co-hosted the 2009 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship Regional at the Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton, N.J., after recording the third highest attendance figure for the women's championship with the First and Second Rounds in 2006.
In June of 1995, the MAAC developed new opportunities for student-athletes as the conference announced the formation of the MAAC Men's and Women's Lacrosse Leagues. The men's league began competition in the spring of 1996, while the women's league commenced in the spring of 1997. Since their inception as associate sports leagues, both men’s and women’s lacrosse have been upgraded to full MAAC sports. The men's league currently consists of six MAAC schools - Canisius, Manhattan, Marist, Monmouth, Quinnipiac and Siena - and one associate member – the University of Detroit Mercy. The women's league features competition among nine MAAC institutions - Canisius, Fairfield, Iona, Manhattan, Marist, Monmouth, Niagara, Quinnipiac and Siena.
In the spring of 2014, the MAAC expanded the championship field to six teams in men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, women’s lacrosse, softball, and baseball. Additionally, the MAAC membership agreed that the highest seeded team should generally host the MAAC championship.
MAAC Associate Sports
In 2002, the MAAC added the MAAC Women’s Water Polo League. The league is currently made up of three MAAC schools - Iona, Marist and Siena - as well as four associate members, St. Francis (N.Y.), Villanova, Virginia Military Institute and Wagner.
Sacred Heart began participation in MAAC Women’s Rowing in the spring of 2008. Drake University joined the league for the 2010 MAAC Championship, while Robert Morris began competition in the spring of 2011. In 2012 Jacksonville University brought its men’s and women’s teams into MAAC Rowing, and Stetson University joined the league in 2014.
MAAC women’s golf competition is comprised of five member schools – Fairfield, Monmouth, Niagara, Quinnipiac and Siena – and two associate members – the University at Albany and the University of Hartford.
For the first time in league history, an associate member was added in men’s swimming & diving when Bryant University joined the league in the summer of 2012.
In April of 2013 the MAAC added field hockey as a sponsored sport with competition beginning in the fall of the 2013-14 academic year between four member institutions – Monmouth University, Quinnipiac University, Rider University and Siena College. In June of 2013 the MAAC added associate members to the Field Hockey League - Bryant University and Sacred Heart University, bringing the MAAC to six teams for 2014, with Fairfield University set to join the league starting in the 2015-16 academic year.
Academics and Athletics
The MAAC prides itself on the accomplishments of its student-athletes in the classroom, as well as on the field. Mary Beth Riley, a 1991 graduate of Canisius, was the first recipient of the NCAA Woman of the Year Award. In the fall of 1998, Erin Whalen, a member of the Iona women’s rowing team, was awarded one of the nation’s 32 Rhodes Scholarships for academic achievement and civic leadership.
In 2014 the NCAA announced that twenty five MAAC women’s sports and thirteen men’s sports achieved a perfect APR score of 1,000. MAAC Women’s basketball posted a conference wide APR of 992, 19 points higher than the national average of 973. The MAAC was ranked in the top quartile of the Division I members in terms of overall graduation rates.
First-class facilities are the rule with MAAC schools, as teams regularly play in top-notch arenas, such as Madison Square Garden, the Barclays Center, the MassMutual Center, the IZOD Center, First Niagara Center, Times Union Center, the Webster Bank Arena, and the Sun National Bank Center. This year, the MAAC will take the volleyball championship to Orlando, Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The 2015 MAAC Men’s and Women’s Golf Championships will be held at Disney’s Palm Golf Course.
In the past several years, a number of the MAAC schools have also enjoyed success in NCAA Championships. MAAC schools have played in a total of 83 NIT games and 81 NCAA games. In 2014, Siena College claimed the league’s first basketball postseason title in its history by winning the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) title. In 2013, the MAAC had a record 6 men basketball programs participate in postseason play- Iona (NCAA Championship), Niagara (NIT), Canisius, Fairfield, Loyola, and Rider (CIT). Canisius and Loyola both advanced to the Quarterfinal round, while Rider reached the second round. In 2012, the MAAC had two teams advance to the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship for the first time in 16 years, with Loyola earning the league’s automatic bid and Iona garnering an at-large bid. In 2007, the Marist women’s basketball team advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling to the eventual National Champion, the University of Tennessee. The Red Foxes have recorded an additional five NCAA wins since their run in 2007.
The MAAC has also been a leader in the forefront of technology, expanding the notoriety of the league into cyberspace. In 2007, the league reached an agreement with JumpTV, Inc., now NeuLion, Inc., to design and host the MAAC web page. MAACSports.com has been a great success, providing fans with up-to-date contest results, live and on-demand video and an online merchandise store. The MAAC, in conjunction with NeuLion, launched an iPhone app in February 2011, followed by Android and iPad apps that were released during the 2011-12 academic year.
In September 2011, the conference announced the launch of MAAC.TV, the league’s first broadband network. Eight schools - Canisius, Fairfield, Iona, Manhattan, Marist, Monmouth, Rider, and Saint Peter’s - are currently part of the network, which broadcast over 400 live events in 2013-14.
In May 2014, the MAAC continued to grow its partnership with ESPN3 announcing the launch of the MAAC Branded ESPN3 Channel. All MAAC and school produced ESPN3 broadcasts will be viewable as live or archived contents for all MAAC sports. The new initiative increases the MAAC’s long-term partnership with ESPN and is concurrent with the development of school based production facilities on many of the conference’s member campuses.
The MAAC President for the 2014-2015 academic year is John J. Hurley, the President of Canisius College. The Vice-President is Brennan O’Donnell, the President of Manhattan College. Commissioner Rich Ensor serves as the league’s Secretary/Treasurer. Joe Quinlan, Director of Athletics at Saint Peter’s University, will chair the Committee on Athletic Administration, and Jamie Fogarty, Senior Associate Athletic Director/SWA at Iona College will serve as Vice Chair.