The Mountain East Conference (MEC) announced on Friday that its application for membership has been approved by the NCAA Division II Membership Committee. The MEC will officially become the 25th NCAA Division II conference on Sept. 1, 2013 and immediately assumes active status.
"This is a very exciting time for the Mountain East Conference and our 12 charter institutions," MEC Commissioner Reid Amos said. "Every one of our schools has great history, great tradition and now a great future as an MEC member. It has been an exhilarating experience to be a part of the formation of a group of like-minded institutions that has laid a strong foundation for a long and successful association."
The 12 charter members of the nation's newest NCAA Division II regional all-sports league include nine West Virginia institutions – Concord University, Fairmont State University, Glenville State College, Shepherd University, The University of Charleston, West Liberty University, West Virginia State University, Wheeling Jesuit University, and West Virginia Wesleyan College – along with Notre Dame College and Urbana University from Ohio and the University of Virginia's College at Wise.
The formal application process was extremely detailed – the final application document totaled nearly 200 pages when it was filed in December 2012 – but Amos said all that hard work proved to be a blessing in disguise.
"The NCAA Division II membership process was very valuable to us in a number of ways," he said. "It almost served as a step-by-step guide to organizing a model NCAA Division II conference and really helped our presidents and athletic directors crystallize a strategic plan – a vision – for our collective future. I'm very grateful to our presidents and athletic directors for their great input throughout the process and I'd also like to express my appreciation for the guidance provided by Oliver and Lindemenn Consulting."
The MEC expects to crown conference champions in 16 sports during its first season of operation: men's and women's basketball, baseball, men's and women's cross country, football, men's and women's golf, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's track and field, and volleyball.
As a new conference, the MEC's conference champions won't be able to receive automatic NCAA Tournament bids during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years but the eligibility of all MEC institutions for at-large bids to NCAA championship play will be unaffected throughout the period.
"A highly-competitive conference supports the high-quality experience that we are committed to creating for every one of our student-athletes," Amos said. "Ultimately, we expect our new affiliation will create increased opportunities for NCAA Tournament participation in every one of our 16 NCAA Championship sports."