Make room for Western New York in the Northeast Conference.
The NEC announced Thursday that Daemen and D’Youville will join the conference as associate conference members for men’s volleyball starting in the 2023 season.
The addition of Daemen and D’Youville expand the NEC to eight programs for the conference’s upcoming inaugural men’s volleyball season. The NEC beginning in 2023 will become the second multi-sport Division I conference to sponsor men’s volleyball.
“This partnership is win-win on so many levels,” NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris said in a statement. “It provides additional competitive opportunities for the six NEC institutions, gives a conference home to two rising programs and serves to strengthen the sport of men’s volleyball at the collegiate level. We are excited to welcome the Wildcats and Saints to the NEC family.”
Both Daemen and D’Youville as the only two NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball programs in Western New York had been competing as independents.
Daemen finished last season at No. 8 in the Division II National Coaches Poll and advanced to the IVA Tournament finals. The Wildcats were 4-3 against their future conference opponents en route to their third winning streak in the program’s four-year history.
“We are thrilled to be presented with the opportunity to join the Northeast Conference,” Daemen coach Don Gleason said in a statement. “As our program grows, it is important for our student-athletes to have a road to the NCAA Tournament. It is exciting to be a part of the growth of this sport and the decision to accept Daemen into the NEC not only helps our program, but also men’s college volleyball as a whole.”
D’Youville ended the 2022 season at 9-13 – a seven-win improvement from the previous season. The entire D’Youville athletics department is also in the process of transitioning from NCAA Division III to NCAA Division II.
“This is a great day for D’Youville and our men’s volleyball program,” D’Youville coach Chris Krueger said in a statement. “The acceptance of the program into the NEC provides us with many opportunities that we never had as an independent.”
Along with Daemen and D’Youville as associate members, Fairleigh Dickinson, Long Island, Merrimack, Sacred Heart, Saint Francis, St. Francis Brooklyn are all full members of the NEC.