The Stetson University women's rowing program will join the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) as an associate member beginning in the 2013-14 season, the league announced on Wednesday.
The Hatters will immediately be eligible to compete for the MAAC title and the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship. Stetson's rowing program had previously competed without a conference affiliation.
“We are thrilled to be the newest associate member of the MAAC women's rowing conference," said Alicia Queally, Stetson Associate Athletic Director and Senior Woman Administrator. “It is a great opportunity for our student-athletes to be part of a conference that offers them the chance to row in the NCAA Championships. I know that Coach (Mark) Wilson cannot wait to announce to his team this exciting news. Of course, this would not be possible without the vote of confidence from the MAAC rowing membership and its Presidents. We thank them for this amazing opportunity.”
The MAAC, headquartered in Edison, N.J., will have nine member institutions competing in women's rowing in 2013-14, including Canisius, Drake, Fairfield, Iona, Jacksonville, Marist, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, and Stetson.
“The addition of Stetson women’s rowing brings another fine program into the MAAC,” notes Marshall Foley, Associate Commissioner for Championships at the MAAC. “With automatic qualification into the NCAA Championship, the depth and competitiveness of MAAC Women’s Rowing has improved markedly over the past few years. Stetson certainly continues that trend and we look forward to hosting the team at the MAAC Rowing Championships.”
The Stetson rowing program was established in 1988 and hosted its first regatta in 1992, winning four of the seven races against the University of Florida. The Hatters practice and compete out of the International Rowing Center along Lake Beresford and are under the direction of Head Coach Mark Wilson.
"We are very excited to be accepted into the MAAC as a rowing affiliate member," Wilson said. "Stetson and the MAAC seem like a perfect fit and we are eager to be in a conference that takes rowing seriously and has a long tradition with solid programs.
"As a coach it is wonderful to put goals in front of my team, and having a true conference championship to lay in front of them and say, 'Go for it!' is very exciting," Wilson added. "I know that we will have our work cut out for us in the coming years but the opportunity to race for the largest contest in women's rowing is going to be very exciting."
This past season marked the first year that the MAAC received an automatic qualifier in the NCAA Division I Rowing Championship. Marist College represented the MAAC at the Indianapolis Rowing Center at Eagle Creek Park in Indianapolis, Ind.
In 2012 the MAAC co-hosted the NCAA Division I, II and III Rowing Championships at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, New Jersey, where the conference also hosts their annual rowing championships.
The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference contributed to this report.