Men's Soccer Gains Affiliate Membership in Sun Belt ConferenceFebruary 11, 2014
Hartwick College's Division I men's soccer team will join the Sun Belt Conference as an affiliate member at the start of the 2014 season. The Sun Belt will reinstitute the sport of men's soccer this fall.
"Hartwick is thrilled to be invited to join the Sun Belt Conference," said Hartwick Director of Athletics Dr. Kim Fierke, "and it will provide a wonderful athletic experience for our scholar-athletes. The Sun Belt offers great exposure, not only for our men's soccer program but also Hartwick College itself. With inter-conference team travel cost quite comparable to what we have experienced in the MAC Conference, we look forward to competing in our new league this fall."
The Sun Belt has three full-time member institutions which sponsor men's soccer programs. These include Appalachian State (Boone, NC), Georgia Southern (Statesboro, GA), and Georgia State (Atlanta, GA). Hartwick joins affiliate members Howard University (Washington, D.C.) and New Jersey Institute of Technology (Newark, NJ) to complete the six-team conference.
The Hawks will play in a single round-robin league schedule with all six teams qualifying for the Sun Belt Conference Championship. The site of the championship will be determined at a later date, but will be at the home site of one of the six-member schools. The top two teams in the standings will receive first-round byes with the champion of the tournament receiving an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament beginning in 2014.
"We are absolutely delighted to be joining the Sun Belt Conference and we're very excited to start preparing for this new challenge," commented Hartwick men's soccer head coach John Scott. "To be part of a brand new conference brings immediate and renewed focus ahead of the 2014 season. We've played against Appalachian State and NJIT in recent years and we will be doing our homework to learn as much as we can about all of our new opponents in what should be a fairly even playing field. Conference play provides a road to the NCAA Tournament, and after reaching the MAC playoffs this past season, we will be determined to reach that stage again with the Sun Belt."
Hartwick was recently informed by the MAC that the College's contract would not be renewed due to the Conference's desire to move forward without multi-divisional institutions. Looking forward, the Sun Belt will be the third conference of which the Hartwick men's soccer program has been associated. The Hawks have previously competed in the Atlantic Soccer Conference and the Mid-American Conference with a combined record of 44-34-15 in 14 seasons.
Hartwick was first a member of the ASC from 2000-2006. The Hawks made two postseason appearances and won the ASC title in 2005. 'Wick has been a member of the MAC since 2007, making four conference tournament appearances.
"Playing in the MAC served as a great experience for our current squad," added Scott. "and without a doubt, it will help us prepare for our next challenge. We'll look back with fond memories from our time in the MAC, but it's all about the Sun Belt now, nothing else."
The Sun Belt previously sponsored men's soccer from 1976 to 1995. In fact, the first Sun Belt Championship in any sport was the 1976 men's soccer championship.
Come July 1, 2014 the Sun Belt membership will consist of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (non-football), Arkansas State University, Georgia State University, Georgia Southern University, the University of Idaho (football only), the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, New Mexico State University (football only), the University of South Alabama, the University of Texas at Arlington (non-football), Texas State University, and Troy University. Hartwick College, Howard University, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology will compete as affiliate members in men's soccer.
To read the original announcement, visit www.hartwickhawks.com.
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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes an experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a distinctive January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for not just their first jobs, but for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.
Hartwick College Contact: Chris Gondek, Assistant Director - Athletics Communication