The Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) announced on Thursday that Colby-Sawyer College and Regis College have accepted invitations to join as full members. The Chargers will join at the beginning of the 2018-19 academic year, while Regis will become a member in the 2017-18 academic year.

“We are excited to join the GNAC in 2018 as the next step for Colby-Sawyer after what will have been seven wonderful years in the NAC. The GNAC is a group of private colleges like us located in areas many of our students call home,” said President Thomas C. Galligan Jr. “Joining the GNAC will provide fantastic competitive opportunities while easing travel burdens for our student-athletes and their families.”

“I look forward to Colby-Sawyer joining the GNAC in 2018-2019,” says President-elect Susan D. Stuebner, who takes office July 1. “Our students will benefit from the high level of competition closer to home, and with less time on the road for away games, they will have more time to dedicate to their primary commitment of academics.”

“We’re very excited to join the GNAC and the opportunities it provides our student-athletes,” said Athletic Director Bill Foti. “The GNAC geographic footprint brings us closer to our historical recruiting stomping grounds and to our alumni base. To join a group of private institutions like Colby-Sawyer is a logical next step in our athletic history.”

“We’ll look back fondly on our time in the NAC,” added Foti. “When we joined the NAC in 2011, the members worked closely with us to ensure a smooth transition. We’re very grateful for that. We’ve made many friends and established healthy rivalries. These are relationships we hope to sustain into the future.”

“The Great Northeast Conference will provide the next challenge in the growth of Colby-Sawyer athletics,” said Athletic Director George Martin.

“We are excited about having conference members in all six New England states. Being a member of the GNAC will allow our current student-athletes to compete in their hometown areas, give our outstanding coaches opportunities to recruit in a wider range of locations, and allow our alumni opportunities to see us play throughout New England.”

“We are grateful for the past five years of membership in the North Atlantic Conference and look forward to continuing our membership through the 2017-18 academic year,” added Martin. “The NAC has provided Colby-Sawyer College and our student athletes a wonderful conference affiliation and we will be forever thankful for our association with the NAC.”

“Colby-Sawyer and Regis both have a track record of commitment to the GNAC’s core values and are like-minded academically, athletically and geographically with our current member institutions,” said GNAC Commissioner Joe Walsh. “Throughout the application process, it was clear that these two institutions are very much committed to their athletic programs, student-athletes and coaching staffs.” “I am confident that the additions of Colby-Sawyer and Regis will have a positive effect on the GNAC and our student-athletes.”

The Chargers have achieved much success in the five years of affiliation with the NAC. Nine teams have combined to win 22 conference championships, which resulted in 18 trips to the NCAA Tournament. In addition to team success, numerous student-athletes have been recognized for individual accomplishments. The Chargers collected 68 major awards, which include 21 Coaches of the Year, 18 Players/Athletes of the Year, 17 Rookies of the Year, 10 Defensive Players of the Year, one Pitcher of the Year and one Senior Scholar-Athlete of the Year. Colby-Sawyer also had the NAC Woman of the Year in 2013.

Joining the Chargers in the GNAC will be Regis College (Weston, Mass.). The Pride spent the past five years in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC). Colby-Sawyer and Regis are no strangers to each other after spending 16 years together as members of the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC).

The GNAC is currently comprised of 12 member institutions and has at least one school in each state across New England. Founded in 1995, it provides championship opportunities for more than 3,000 student-athletes. The conference includes Albertus Magnus College (New Haven, Conn.), Anna Maria College (Paxton, Mass.), Emmanuel College (Boston, Mass.), Johnson & Wales University (Providence, R.I.), Lasell College (Newton, Mass.), Mount Ida College (Newton, Mass.), Norwich University (Northfield, Vt.), Rivier University (Nashua, N.H.), University of Saint Joseph Connecticut (West Hartford, Conn.), Saint Joseph’s College of Maine (Standish, Maine), Simmons College (Boston, Mass.) and Suffolk University (Boston, Mass.).

Colby-Sawyer and Regis will reunite with other former CCC member Anna Maria, who joined the GNAC five seasons ago after 25 seasons in the CCC.

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