Photo Courtesy of Monmouth University Athletics

Monmouth University accepts invite to join CAA

After days of speculation, Monmouth University announced that the school accepted an invitation to join the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA).

The move to the CAA will include all sports except women's bowling (staying in the MEAC), effective on July 1, 2022.

Monmouth joins the conference along with the University of Hampton and Stony Brook University, which was also announced on Tuesday.

"Today is a great day for Monmouth University," said Monmouth University President Patrick F. Leahy. "The invitation to join the Colonial Athletic Association has presented our University with an opportunity to compete alongside some of the finest institutions in the nation. Those strong academic associations, coupled with the on-field national recognition of the CAA teams, will enhance the Monmouth brand and increase our exposure at the regional and national levels."

"I am very excited to give our student-athletes and coaching staff the opportunity to elevate our programs to a new level. The MAAC, Big South, and America East Conferences have been very good to us over the past eight-plus years, and I am grateful to the leaders of those leagues and the member institutions for their collegiality and competitive spirit. I anticipate that this move to the CAA will energize the entire Monmouth University community and serve as a tremendous point of pride for our students, alumni, and friends."

The move to the CAA comes after the Hawks won two consecutive Big South titles (home since 2014) in football in 2018 and 2019 and have been a perennial contender in basketball in the MAAC (home since 2013).

"The MAAC membership wishes the student-athletes and coaches of Monmouth University the best of luck as the school transitions to a news conference and as the school's teams complete their MAAC competition this winter and spring," notes Commissioner Richard J. Ensor. "In the midst of conference realignment all around us, we are confident of the strength of the MAAC conference schools and their continued commitment to competition in the core sports of our student-athletes."

As of press time, there was no statement from the Big South Conference regarding Monmouth moving their football program to the CAA>

"I want to thank Commissioner D'Antonio and the Board of Directors in the Colonial Athletic Association for giving this tremendous opportunity to Monmouth University, its student-athletes, coaches and staff," said Monmouth University Director of Athletics Jeff Stapleton. "The CAA teams regularly earn national rankings and recognition as they compete for national championships while promoting diverse academic communities that excel in the classroom and prepare their student-athletes for post-graduation success. We are excited to compete with these like-minded institutions beginning this fall, and we believe that we will help to continue to elevate the already impressive trajectory of the CAA."

What This Means For Monmouth

The CAA is slated to lose James Madison to the Sun Belt Conference, so replacing the Dukes was necessary. Monmouth comes in as an instant favorite in the two sports mentioned prior and in women's soccer, track and field, and field hockey, where Monmouth has three recent NCAA Tournament appearances.

Regarding football, the move creates instant rivalries for the Hawks along the East Coast. Schools like Albany (who played with Monmouth in the NEC), Stony Brook, and Villanova. Monmouth reduces the amount of travel for their but also adds more regional games for fans to attend. The Hawks join one of the more competitive mid-majors for basketball, but not entirely on par with the conference they are leaving in the MAAC.

A press conference announcing the move is scheduled for Wednesday at noon at the OceanFirst Bank Center in West Long Branch, NJ.