The State University of New York at Delhi has will join the North Atlantic Conference beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year. Credit: Courtesy of the North Atlantic Conference

A second New York school, the State University of New York at Delhi, will join the North Atlantic Conference beginning next fall.

SUNY Delhi becomes the third full member to join the conference in two years as part of the NAC’s effort to maintain its automatic qualifying berths to the NCAA Division III championships in the sports it offers.

The NAC welcomed UMaine-Presque Isle and SUNY Canton as full members this fall after four schools — Castleton University and Green Mountain College of Vermont, and Colby-Sawyer University and New England College of New Hampshire — left the league after the 2017-18 academic year to join other conferences.

The NAC’s three newest members join Husson University of Bangor, Maine Maritime Academy of Castine, UMaine-Farmington, Thomas College of Waterville, Northern Vermont University-Lyndon and Northern Vermont University-Johnson to give the NAC nine full-time members for the 2019-20 academic year.

Seven are required by the NCAA for a conference champion to qualify for an automatic berth to its Division III national tournaments.

“I am excited to welcome SUNY Delhi as a full member of the NAC,” NAC commissioner Marcella Zalot said in a news release. “It has been wonderful to learn about their institution, and to work with Delhi’s leadership through their affiliation as an associate member and through the full membership application process. The institution aligns nicely with the NAC’s mission and core values, and is a great fit with our conference.”

SUNY Delhi is already an associate member of the NAC in six sports -– men’s and women’s track and field, men’s golf, men’s lacrosse, and men’s tennis — with women’s tennis set to begin participation in 2019.

The Broncos are midway through their first official year as a provisional NCAA Division III member after successfully completing an exploratory partnership during 2017-18. This allows SUNY Delhi to operate and brand as a Division III school while continuing to meet operational benchmarks for full-time membership as early as 2021-22.

During the provisional process, the Broncos are eligible to compete for NAC conference championships and will become eligible for NCAA national championships once becoming a full member institution.

SUNY Delhi sponsors 19 sports, 11 of which will participate in the NAC in 2019-20. Those NAC-sponsored sports include men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, men’s lacrosse, and women’s volleyball.

SUNY Delhi’s men’s and women’s basketball and softball teams will remain partners with the American Collegiate Athletic Association next year, then become participating members of the NAC in 2020-21.

SUNY Delhi will retain membership in its current conferences in its remaining sports: Men’s and women’s swimming and diving, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, and women’s golf.

“The Broncos eagerly look forward to this new chapter of our NCAA Division III athletic history,” SUNY Delhi athletic director Bob Backus said.

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Ernie Clark

Ernie Clark is a veteran sportswriter who has worked with the Bangor Daily News for more than a decade. A four-time Maine Sportswriter of the Year as selected by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters...