(Photo Courtesy of Monmouth University Athletics)

Monmouth on the move to a new conference?

During the massive and controversial conference realignment in college athletics a few years ago, Monmouth did some moving of their own. The Hawks joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for all sports except football in 2013. After a year as an independent, the school joined the Big South Conference for football in 2014.

In just under a decade, Monmouth has become the gold standard of college athletics during a time of significant growth for the program. Back-to-back Big South conference football championships in 2019 and 2020 and three MAAC men’s basketball regular-season championships have put Monmouth in the conversation for one of the best New Jersey college programs.

With the success of Monmouth, it should be no surprise that many have been taking notice. Among those taking note reportedly includes other conferences looking to add an up-and-coming program to their ranks.

That tweet and story from Rothstein were posted on January 14, and rumors have continued regarding a possible Monmouth move. With James Madison University leaving the Colonial Athletic Association and moving to the Sun Belt Conference (an FBS conference), the CAA has reportedly been in the market for new teams. Hampton University has been rumored as one of the teams on their way to the CAA.

In response to the rumor about the possible move, Monmouth University provided a statement to Jersey Sporting News.

“At this time, we cannot offer any comment on conference realignment. We just wrapped up our eighth year as a member in the Big South in football and are currently in the midst of our ninth year in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.”

Does This Reported Move Make Sense For Monmouth?

There has been no word on if the move will include all sports with all that has been discussed. On the surface, a move to the CAA would make more sense for the football team instead of continuing in the Big South. The nearest team to West Long Branch is six hours away at Robert Morris University in Moon Township, PA (former rival in the Northeast Conference). The rest of the football programs in the conferences are based further south.

In the CAA, you have schools Albany (another former NEC rival), Delaware, Stony Brook, and Villanova, who are in a better geographical footprint for games and with whom Monmouth can create instant rivalries. Also, depending on who gets added to the CAA, the level of competition goes up ten-fold on the gridiron. In the Big South, it is just Monmouth and Kennesaw State at the top.

Basketball is another story. The MAAC has the better basketball conference where Monmouth knows they are getting teams like Iona, Saint Peter’s, and others who will give the Hawks their best every night. The same cannot be said about schools like Elon and Towson in the CAA.

Monmouth has developed a brand and has become a program many other mid-majors aspire to be. It will be interesting to see if Monmouth continues to move up the ladder and goes to a higher profile conference or stays the course in their current situation. Unfortunately, conference realignment will continue and wreak havoc on college sports no matter what.

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