|« FCS Signing Day 2013!||College Sporting News 2012 Fabulous Fifty FCS All-America Team »|
Monmouth without a conference in football
Monmouth University football is searching for a new home which, in turn, could be leading to a substantial increase in scholarships for its program.
The Northeast Conference announced Thursday in a statement that it has denied the school’s request to become an associate member in football in the wake of Monmouth’s recent decision to join the Metropolitan Atlantic Athlete Conference (MAAC) which does not sponsor football.
What this means in terms of Monmouth’s football schedule for 2013 or where it will play football in the future was unclear Thursday.
Monmouth is slated to play Cornell, Columbia, and Lehigh this season in non-conference games which would not seem to be affected by Thursday’s developments.
“I think it means that we would not be playing for an NEC championship,’’ Monmouth president Paul Gaffney II said. “Whether we play any of these schools is to be determined. I would hope so but I don’t know.
“Obviously we would look to affiliate with other conferences, especially as all these conferences change so fluidly. We would be looking at those opportunities.’’
At least one conference that appears open to expansion is the FCS full scholarship Big South Conference headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.
That league, which after last season lost Stony Brook to the Colonial Athletic Association, currently has six members which is the minimum allowed by the NCAA for postseason eligibility.
Its football schools are Coastal Carolina, Liberty, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, VMI, and Presbyterian.
In 2012 it sent two of its three tri-champions, Stony Brook and Coastal Carolina, to the FCS playoffs.
Other FCS leagues, such as the Patriot League and the CAA, would appear to be considered long shots for Monmouth at this time.
Monmouth does not seem to favor playing as an FCS independent.
Gaffney said, if need be, Monmouth would increase its scholarships. The NEC is allowing a maximum of 40 scholarships as of this fall. FCS members, including the Big South, are permitted as many as 63.
“But it (the increase) would have to be gradual,’’ said Gaffney who is retiring as Monmouth’s president this summer. “We wouldn’t boost it in one year.’’’
Gaffney said he was “disappointed’’ by the NEC’s decision.
“I think Monmouth University has been a good and strong member of the conference since its beginning,’’ Gaffney said. “We’ve been active in getting the AQ (automatic qualifier to the FCS playoffs). And our football athletes have been very strong students.’’
Monmouth also issued a statement Thursday saying it was aware its football application to the NEC might be rejected.
In part it read, “We knew this was a possible outcome so we have been actively pursuing a new home for MU football and we anticipate a positive outcome in the near future.’’
Word of the NEC’s decision arrives just as college football recruiting heads into the home stretch. College football’s National Signing Day is Feb. 6 when Monmouth has scheduled its annual public signing day event. NCAA rules prohibit schools from revealing commitments before then.
Monmouth coach Kevin Callahan could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Monmouth, which has been a members of the NEC since the mid 1980’s has been a charter member of the league in football since it began sponsoring the sport in 1996.
Under Callahan, who just completed his 20th year as Monmouth’s only coach (5-5, 4-3 last season) the Hawks have won or shared five NEC titles, the last in 2006. Overall Monmouth went 69-45 in NEC football competition.
During this time several former Hawks have earned spots on NFL rosters, including All-Pro wide receiver Miles Austin of the Dallas Cowboys.
The NEC also said Thursday it had turned down Monmouth’s request to rejoin the league as an associate member in bowling but will accept it in the sport of field hockey.
By Tony Graham, Asbury Park Press