On Monday, June 15, the America East Conference will make an announcement about a decision its board of directors made on Friday afternoon. It was voted on to add a new member to the ranks. New Jersey Institute of Technology will be making the switch from the Atlantic Sun league to America East. The move will take effect on July 1, 2020, and the school will become a full member for the upcoming school year.
Covid-19 may have played a role in the Highlanders leaving one league and joining another. In America East, travel will be just a bit easier to manage than what they had in the Atlantic Sun. Playing closer to home may end up being something that plenty of schools start taking into account with their sports programs. Bus trips, instead of flights, could be the best and maybe the only way to travel for games. It didn’t hurt that NJIT has already been playing some schools in America East in different sports for some time now. For example, in the 2019-20 season, the Highlanders took on AE programs in Men’s basketball going 0-2 in games vs Binghamton and UMass Lowell. In baseball, they were scheduled to play at Stony Brook, but that mid-week game was canceled because of the virus.
On the women’s side, the basketball team played three schools from America East defeating Hartford, while losing to both Vermont and Binghamton. In soccer, they would play to a double-overtime draw with Maryland-Baltimore County and in Volleyball, the UNH Wildcats were on the docket with the Wildcats coming away with the victory. The Highlanders do not have a softball program at the moment. but that may change with their arrival in America East.
The best program they bring with them in this move is men’s soccer. Last fall, they were a ten-win team that would win the conference tournament by going 3-0. They put themselves into the NCAA Soccer Tournament field. In the first round, they would draw Providence on the road and lost that match by a 2-0 score. NJIT is a school that fits in with the education that the other schools in America East provide. In the end, as it should be, education is what really wins out here.
For America East, getting back to a ten-member conference is something they have been looking to do for some time since Northeastern left the league to join the CAA for the 2006-07 year. The conference is once again ten members strong. On Monday America East will return to that number.
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