The City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) and North Atlantic Conference (NAC) have come to an agreement to align their respective baseball championships, with the winner of the conference playoff receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship, beginning with the 2019 spring season.
The two-year agreement will see the CUNYAC and NAC play their regular-season schedules separately, and determine their individual champions, by virtue of each conference's postseason tournament.
The top two teams in the final 2019 CUNYAC regular season standing will play a best-of-three series in the first weekend in May to decide the conference champion who will play the NAC champion.
The two league champions will then 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 on Friday, and a maximum of two games on Saturday. A rain date is set for that Sunday, with the schedule subject to change.
"We are excited to finally have the opportunity to play for a NCAA berth," said Baruch Head Coach Jose Torres. "This will make the regular season games more important and the student-athletes will start the season knowing they have a chance to compete to play in the postseason against the best teams in the NCAA Division III."
"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."
The North Atlantic Conference's champion will host the inaugural title game in 2019, while the CUNY Athletic Conference is slated to take hosting duties in 2020.
"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 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 CUNY and the NAC are poised to be great partners."
The NCAA Division III rules stipulate that a conference needs seven members in each team sport to receive an automatic qualifier to the NCAA 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 North Atlantic Conference schools are Husson University (Bangor, Maine), Northern Vermont University - Lyndon (Lyndonville, Vt.), University of Maine-Farmington (Farmington, Maine), University of Maine-Presque Isle (Presque Isle, Maine) and Thomas College (Waterville, Maine). SUNY Canton (Canton, N.Y.) is set to join the NAC in baseball in 2019-20.
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.).