D&E to join the MEC in 2019-20

BRIDGEPORT –The Mountain East Conference announced on Thursday that Davis & Elkins College has accepted an offer of full membership from the conference following a unanimous vote of approval by the MEC Board of Directors on earlier this week.

The league also announced that The University of North Carolina at Pembroke has accepted an invitation of associate membership in the MEC in the sports of football, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, women’s swimming and wrestling after receiving unanimous support from the MEC’s Board.

D&E will compete in the MEC beginning in 2019-20. The Senators currently sponsor 19 of the conference’s 20 championship sports. When combined with UNC Pembroke’s future sports associations with the MEC, the league will be positioned to expand its conference championship sports to 23 — seven more than when the league began in 2013 — as early as the 2019-20 season. The MEC is slated to add championships in wrestling and men’s and women’s indoor track.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Mountain East Conference, we are pleased to welcome Davis & Elkins as a full-time member into the league, and are equally excited to begin an associate member relationship with UNC Pembroke,” said Dr. Kendra Boggess, Concord University president and president of the MEC Board of Directors. “Davis & Elkins aligns well with the league from a geographical and philosophical standpoint, and we believe UNC Pembroke’s associate membership provides the MEC strength and depth in the five sports they will bring to the conference.”

“Adding Davis & Elkins as a full-time member and UNC Pembroke as an associate member is a great step for our league,” said MEC Commissioner Reid Amos. “The leadership at D&E has demonstrated a true commitment to the student-athlete experience which aligns well with the MEC and our other member institutions. Additionally, UNC Pembroke is a great match for us as an associate member. This partnership will provide UNC Pembroke’s student-athletes with a conference home for sports where they do not currently have a conference alignment. In these sports, not only does it provide UNC Pembroke’s student-athletes with a championship experience, it allows the MEC to grow our number of championship sports to provide new opportunities for student-athletes across the Mountain East Conference.

“When combined with the recent acceptance of an invitation by Frostburg State, this series of partnerships not only signifies growth for the MEC, but also helps to foster sustainability for our conference’s championship profile while creating increased recruiting opportunities for our MEC member institutions. We have every expectation that the MEC will continue to be a highly competitive conference that is well positioned for continued success in NCAA Division II.”

“We are very pleased to have received an invitation to join the Mountain East Conference,” said D&E President Chris A. Wood. “This is welcome news for not only the College and our 320 student-athletes, but parents and Senator fans as well. Athletic contests taking place closer to home allows all to share in the accomplishments of our student-athletes. We look forward to a partnership with the high caliber professionalism the MEC displays.”

The D&E athletic department, more commonly known as Senator Nation, is committed to developing excellence in student-athletes, coaches and staff through education, engagement, character and competition. D&E currently sponsors 21 intercollegiate sports, competing in 23 championship seasons, and currently has 320 student-athletes from 30 states and 21 countries.

“Today is a day we will remember for years to come,” said D&E Director of Athletics Jamie Joss. “Joining the Mountain East, one of the nation’s premier NCAA Division II collegiate athletic conferences, provides a tremendous opportunity to align with conference members focused on enhancing the academic and athletic experiences of our student-athletes.

“The invitation from the Mountain East is validation of the hard work and commitment our coaches and staff have put forth over the past five years through the support of President Wood and our Board of Trustees,” Joss added.

“We are thrilled to develop new conference relationships and renew past in-state rivalries as we strive to compete at the highest level across all of our sports to help enhance the MEC’s mission of ‘Providing Opportunity and Pursuing Excellence.'”

Located in the southeast North Carolina town of Pembroke, UNCP is a public, co-educational and historically American Indian liberal arts University that has more than 6,500 students, including more than 800 graduate students.

UNC Pembroke, one of just two NCAA Division II football teams to make three or more appearances in the NCAA Division II Playoffs in the first 10 years of its program’s existence, will play football in the MEC in 2020. The Braves will compete as early as the 2019-20 season in swimming & diving, as well indoor track & field and wrestling, while football will begin MEC competition in fall 2020. The associate membership with the MEC would give UNCP a conference home for all 16 of its sports for the first time in its 26-year NCAA Division II history as it competes as a full-time member of the Peach Belt Conference.

“I think the frequency with which we have faced the MEC and the proximity of some of their institutions will surprise a number of our fans,” said UNCP Director of Athletics Dick Christy. “Our dedication to a championship experience for all student-athletes is at the forefront of our mission, and the necessity of a conference home for these five sports is paramount to the success of that mission.”

Established in 2013, the Mountain East Conference has quickly established itself as one of the top all-sports conferences in the country. In just five years, MEC institutions have produced two team NCAA Division II champions, seven national finalists and 13 semifinalists. In addition to the athletic success, the MEC recognizes over 1,500 student-athletes annually for their academic success and has additionally had seven “NCAA Elite 90” winners, which honors the individual with the highest cumulative grade-point average at the finals site for each of the NCAA’s 90 championships.