PAWTUCKET, R.I. (June 6, 2019) – Little East Conference (LEC) Commissioner Cora H.L. Brumley announced that men's golf and men's swimming & diving have been approved by the LEC Presidents Council to become conference championship sports, marking the first sport expansion of Little East in nearly two decades.
"We are expanding the number of varsity sports in the Little East Conference to provide our students with more opportunities to compete on the playing field," said Eastern Connecticut State University President and LEC Presidents Council Chair Elsa Núñez. "Men's golf and men's swimming & diving give our male athletes more options and will enhance our conference's reputation across New England. This past year, we also expanded our membership to include Castleton University. These initiatives reflect the Presidents Council's continued interest in providing student-athletes with the best varsity athletic competition possible, while maintaining our academic focus as Division III institutions."
The Little East currently sponsors championships in 19 varsity sports (eight men's, 11 women's). The last expansion of LEC sport offerings saw the addition of women's lacrosse, and men's and women's tennis for the 2001-02 academic year.
"The LEC is thrilled to expand its championship sponsorship to include men's golf and men's swimming and diving, and will apply the full force of the league's support to provide an outstanding and consistent experience across our members' sport programs," remarked Commissioner Cora H.L. Brumley. "I applaud the Presidents Council's investment in the LEC by expanding quality athletic opportunities for their student-athletes".
The LEC will begin hosting a men's swimming & diving invitational alongside its women's swimming & diving championship beginning in the 2019-20 academic year for the four varsity programs that currently compete as independents – Eastern Connecticut State University, Keene State College, UMass Dartmouth and Western Connecticut State University. Per LEC Bylaws, five programs are required to sponsor a conference championship. A search for additional members will begin immediately, and it is anticipated that the LEC will sponsor a men's swimming & diving championship beginning in 2020-21.
Men's golf will become a LEC championship sport beginning with the 2020-21 academic year. There are five current member institutions that sponsor men's golf – UMass Dartmouth, Rhode Island College and the University of Southern Maine are affiliate members of the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, Castleton is an affiliate member of the North Atlantic Conference, and Western Connecticut, which competed as an independent during its first varsity season in 2018-19.
A search for additional men's golf members will begin immediately as the NCAA requires a conference have seven programs to earn Automatic Qualification (AQ) status for the NCAA Championship Tournament. The LEC programs will continue to have access to "Pool C/At-Large" NCAA selection after leaving their current conferences following the 2019-20 academic year, and will would have access to "Pool B" selection for conferences that do not meet the minimum membership requirement for an AQ until at least two programs are identified for membership.
Both sports will have a single-event meet to determine the conference champion. The men's golf championship will be contested in October beginning in 2020. The men's swimming & diving meet will be contested in February leading into the NCAA Division III Championships.
About the Little East Conference
The Little East Conference (LEC) was formed in 1986 when six public institutions gathered to create a single sport athletic conference and has expanded into what is now New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III. The LEC features 19 championship sports and sponsors quality competition in every season for our student-athletes, while following the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship and citizenship.