DOVER, Del. – The Wesley College athletic department announced Thursday that the school will end its 12-year membership in the Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) at the conclusion of the 2017-18 academic year to become a charter member of the newly formed Atlantic East Conference (AEC) on July 1, 2018.
Wesley College joins Cabrini University, Gwynedd Mercy University, Immaculata University, Marymount University, Marywood University and Neumann University to become founding members of the AEC.
"Wesley College is proud and excited to be part of the newly formed Atlantic East Conference," said Wesley College President Robert E. Clark II. "The AEC is made up of private faith-based institutions with similar values and a common goal of providing the best competitive and educational opportunities for our student-athletes, and potential student-athletes in our region."
All of Wesley's NCAA-sponsored sports will compete in the Atlantic East except football, which will remain an associate member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
"This is an exciting day for our athletic department," Director of Athletics Mike Drass stated. "We have enjoyed our time in the Capital Athletic Conference and we will look back on our time in the CAC with great pride, but this was a common-sense move made with our students' best interests in mind."
The Atlantic East is being formed to foster athletic competition and cooperation among academically selective, private colleges located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The geographic focus will bring together some of the top colleges in the region, while still allowing for a strong conference of like-minded institutions, all of which integrate competitive athletics into the student-athletes' university experience.
"The AEC will be great for our student-athletes to compete at the highest level from other like institutions," stated Associate Director of Athletics and head field hockey coach Tracey Short.
The AEC will initially sponsor and host championships for 19 NCAA Division III sports. Comprised of seven members institutions, the AEC would earn automatic qualification (AQ) status to NCAA postseason play beginning in 2020-21.
Wesley is no stranger to several of the founding members of the AEC. Wesley was a former member of the Pennsylvania Athletic Conference along with Cabrini, Gwynedd Mercy, Immaculata, Marywood and Neumann. Marymount joins Wesley in leaving the CAC at the end of the academic year.
Since joining the CAC in 2006 Wesley teams have appeared in 45 CAC tournaments and won four conference championships. In track & field and golf, Wesley has earned 50 individual conference championships.