PITMAN, N.J. – The New Jersey Athletic Conference announced on Monday morning that Wesley College will become an associate football member of the NJAC beginning in the 2015-16 academic year. Also set to join the league that season as associate football members are Christopher Newport University, Frostburg State University and Salisbury University, as well as Southern Virginia, who became an affiliate football member in the Fall of 2014.
The addition of all five institutions as associate NJAC football members became official following successful votes on each institutional membership application by both the NJAC Presidents Council and the league's Board of Athletic Administrators.
"We are extremely excited about the future of our football conference with the addition of these tremendous programs," said Terry Small, the Commissioner of the New Jersey Athletic Conference. "Our Presidents and athletic administrators have always sought stability in terms of our football membership, and we now believe that we have assembled one of the strongest football conferences in all of NCAA Division III. By adding these quality programs and partnering with these outstanding institutions, we believe we have aligned many of the top Division III football programs in the region while helping to ease the burden of scheduling that all of the institutions have experienced throughout the years."
"Having Wesley and other CAC (Capital Athletic Conference) teams partner with the NJAC will create one of the strongest football conferences in the Nation and will enable our players to experience some of the finest Division III football nationally," said Dr. William N. Johnston, the President of Wesley College. "It is a win-win for all involved."
Wesley has been one of the most successful small college football programs over the last decade after first sponsoring the sport in 1986. Under the leadership of head coach Mike Drass, the Wolverines have advanced to ten NCAA Tournaments, including national tournament berths in each of the last nine seasons and five South Region Titles. Wesley was a previous member of the Atlantic Central Football Conference where it claimed eight ACFC titles including six-straight from 2005 to 2010 before playing as a Division III Independent from 2011-14.
"We are proud and honored to join the NJAC for Football," said Drass, who also serves as the Director of Athletics at Wesley. "The NJAC has a great tradition and plays outstanding football. Wesley College football team is excited to have an opportunity to compete in what will undoubtedly be one of the best football conferences in the nation."
The additions to the New Jersey Athletic Conference in 2015-16 will increase the league's football membership to ten institutions, including full-conference members Kean University, Montclair State University, Rowan University, The College of New Jersey and William Paterson University. In total, the ten programs that will compete in NJAC football during the 2015-16 academic year have combined for 72 conference championships and 61 NCAA Tournament appearances.