KINGS POINT, N.Y. (May 22, 2015) – On Friday, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy Athletics Department announced that it has accepted an invitation to join the Skyline Conference, effective beginning with the 2016-17 athletic seasons. The action was voted on by the Skyline Conference Presidents’ Council and was officially approved this week.
"The Skyline Conference is very pleased to welcome the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy as a new member,” said Purchase College President Thomas J. Schwarz, chair of the Skyline Presidents’ Council. “Their presence will strengthen the Conference both academically and athletically, and we are looking forward to a long and mutually enriching relationship.”
The Skyline Conference will become Merchant Marine’s primary conference for 12 current teams at the Academy – baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s soccer, men’s and women’s swimming & diving, men’s tennis and women’s volleyball.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to join the Skyline Conference,” commented USMMA Superintendent RADM James Helis. “Competing against these first-rate institutions will allow our student-athletes to develop leadership and teamwork skills and a commitment to excellence that complements our mission to produce leaders of exemplary character.”
With 10 current members, the Skyline will have a total of 12 schools when USMMA joins in 2016-17. A great geographic fit for the Academy, all 12 member institutions of the Skyline Conference are located in New York State and all but one are located in the New York Metropolitan Area.
"The Merchant Marine Academy is among the finest institutions in the country and their athletics philosophy mirrors the conference mission of striving toward academic and athletic excellence,” said Skyline Commissioner Linda Bruno. “Our member institutions frequently compete against USMMA in a variety of sports and I expect them to transition seamlessly into the conference for the 2016-17 academic year. I applaud the Presidents’ Council on an excellent addition to the Skyline.”
The 2016-17 season will mark the Skyline Conference’s 27th year of NCAA Division III competition. Along with USMMA, the league's membership includes Farmingdale State College, SUNY Maritime, Mount Saint Mary College, the College of Mount Saint Vincent, SUNY College at Old Westbury, Purchase College (SUNY), The Sage Colleges, Sarah Lawrence College, St. Joseph’s College-Long Island, and Yeshiva University. St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn will join the Skyline beginning in 2015-16.
The Skyline Conference crowns champions in 17 sports: baseball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's cross country, men's golf, men’s and women's lacrosse, men's and women's soccer, softball, men's and women's swimming, men's and women's tennis, and men’s and women's volleyball. At least one student-athlete from the Skyline has earned Academic All-America distinction in each of the past six semesters, and 378 student-athletes from the conference were named to the Commissioner’s Academic Honor Roll for the 2014 Fall Semester.
“Because our teams already compete against numerous Skyline Conference schools due to our location, we are very familiar with the superior level of competition,” commented USMMA Interim Athletic Director Captain Bill Fell. “I look forward to working with my fellow administrators and coaches to promote and execute quality athletic events and opportunities, which in turn enhances the student-athlete experience.”
Merchant Marine was previously a member of the Skyline Conference from 1989-90 until 2006-07. The Mariners were charter members of the original Skyline Basketball Conference when it was a basketball-only league which began competition in 1989. The conference then began sponsoring championships in additional sports beginning in 1991-92, and the Skyline became USMMA’s primary conference for 16 seasons, until the Mariners departed to become a charter member of the Landmark Conference beginning in 2007-08.
In eight seasons thus far in the Landmark Conference, the Mariners have secured 11 Landmark championships, most notably winning all eight men’s swimming & diving crowns, including the 2015 championship this past February with a record-breaking 973-point performance. USMMA’s other Landmark titles have been in men’s lacrosse (2009), men’s basketball (2010), and men’s soccer (2011), and the Mariners have placed as the runner-up in the conference on four occasions. USMMA will retain all rights of membership in the Landmark until departure after the 2015-16 seasons.
“As a founding member of the Landmark Conference, the student-athletes of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy raised the competitive bar for our member institutions,” stated L. Jay Lemons, Susquehanna University President and Chair of the Landmark Executive Board. “Although we are saddened by their decision to return to the Skyline Conference, we respect their decision to do what is in the Academy’s best interest. We wish them well and hope there will be continued opportunities to compete with them in the future.”