Updated: Sep 17
Just a few months ago, the future of the Capital Athletic Conference was in question. The CAC now has a breath of fresh air and some flexibility moving forward.
According to a release on cacsports.com, the CAC Board of Directors voted unanimously to make six institutions full members of the conference: University of California Santa Cruz, Finlandia University, Mills College, Mount Mary University, Pine Manor College and Pratt Institute.
The new members come by way of the American Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Dr. Gerry DiBartolo, director of Athletics and Campus Recreation at Salisbury University, noted the enthusiasm of the new schools when it came to joining the conference.
“The timing just wasn’t right for a lot of schools that we had contacted,” DiBartolo said. “This group of institutions were very interested… we thought that the unique nature of this conference, with members in California, members in the Midwest and members on the West Coast would be a really interesting concept.”
While there are now 11 teams in the conference, that number will shrink to eight for the 2021-22 season. St. Mary’s and Southern Virginia both announced their planned departure last year and Pine Manor will be absorbed by Boston College following the 2020-21 season.
This solution allows for the CAC to maintain the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament, albeit through somewhat unconventional means.
The conference will not engage in regular season play; instead, the conference will have postseason tournaments that determine the winner of the automatic bid for the conference.
The ACAA used the Massey Ratings to determine rankings for postseason play. The ratings consider wins and losses, convincing wins, strength of schedule and more.
For the remainder of this year, the former-ACAA schools will continue to use the Massey Ratings to determine postseason rankings. The three original CAC teams remaining will convert to the Massey Ratings for the postseason next year.
Both Mills and Mount Mary are women-only schools. Mills competes in cross country, rowing, soccer, swimming, tennis and volleyball.
Dr. Beth Hillman serves as the president of Mills College and is a Chair of the ACAA Presidents Council. Hillman said Mills looks forward to competing in the new-look conference.
“Mills College is excited to be joining the CAC at a time when working together to support our student-athletes is especially critical,” Hillman said on May 26. “Kudos to the many hardworking people and institutions that have made this happen, and I look forward to seeing the Mills Cyclones compete in the new conference.”
Pratt Institute became a provisional member of Division III on September 1, 2019. According to a news release from Pratt, it is the only school in the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design to do so.
In its lone year of CAC competition, Pine Manor will compete in men’s soccer, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball.
Finlandia and UC Santa Cruz are the lone new members of the conference that offer both men’s and women’s sports and will still be members of the conference for the 2021-22 academic year.
The CAC is also expected to receive a new name and logo in the coming months. All existing conference awards will be maintained.
DiBartolo also noted the added benefit of experiencing single-site tournament style playoffs and being able to travel in ways most Division III athletes do not have the chance to.
“For many of our teams, even when they go to NCAA play, quite often they do not fly anywhere,” DiBartolo said. “It’s going to provide some really nice opportunities for our student athletes, and we’re not diminishing any of the ones they had in the past.”
By NICK LEWIS
Featured image from Sports Information.