West Virginia Joins MAC As Men's Soccer Affiliate In 2012
The addition of the Mountaineers will increase the MAC men's soccer membership to eight members-five from MAC full-time membership (Akron, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan) and three affiliate members (Florida Atlantic University, Hartwick College, West Virginia).
"I am pleased to welcome West Virginia University as an affiliate member in men's soccer beginning with the 2012 season," said Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher, Commissioner of the Mid-American Conference. "The Mountaineers have a wonderful history in men's soccer and will depth and strength to the Mid-American Conference."
"We have seen in recent years the level of men's soccer dramatically improve across the board in the MAC," commented Western Michigan head coach Stu Riddle. "The addition of West Virginia, which is consistently nationally recognized as a top-25 ranked team, can only bode well for the strength of the conference and my team and staff look forward to the challenge of competing against them this fall and beyond."
The 2012 season will be the 51st season of competition for men's soccer for West Virginia. The Mountaineers have a 410-339-81 all-time record (1961-2011) and have 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, including five since the 2005 season, and 14 All-Americans.
"West Virginia University is committed to remaining a national player in men's soccer," said Oliver Luck, West Virginia University Director of Athletics. "We believe an affiliation with the Mid-American Conference provides our institution a platform to partner with quality soccer programs represented by a loyal, passionate fan base. We look forward to continuing a proud tradition of soccer excellence in the Mid-American Conference,"
West Virginia is led by head coach Marlon LeBlanc, as the Mountaineers finished the 2011 season with an 11-8-1 record and an RPI of 24 and strength of schedule of 19th in the nation. Last season, West Virginia defeated Xavier, 2-1, in the NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament First Round, before falling at Maryland, 4-0, in the Second Round.
Last year marked the fourth time in the last six seasons for the program to be ranked among RPI in the Top 25. LeBlanc was named 2006 Soccer America Coach of the Year, as well as the 2006 FieldTurf National Coach of the Year and 2006 NSCAA/Adidas Northeast Coach of the Year. In addition, West Virginia has ranked in the Top 25 in attendance in each of the last four consecutive seasons.
"I would like to thank Commissioner Steinbrecher, Associate Commissioner's Donyale Canada and Jeff Bacon, and the Mid-American Conference member institutions for inviting West Virginia University as an affiliate member in the MAC for men's soccer," said head coach Marlon LeBlanc.
"Athletic Director Oliver Luck gave me the green light to pursue whichever conference avenue was going to be the best fit for our men's soccer program. After extensive research, spearheaded by West Virginia Associate Athletic Director Terri Howes, we believe the MAC provides us the best opportunity to partner with a conference that recognizes soccer as a priority sport, and with other institutions that share an uncompromising vision and expectation of excellence on the field and in the classroom.
"Our goals of competing for and winning National Championships remains unchanged, and clearly, the Mid-American Conference has proven that it prepares its programs to win national championships. The MAC, which was already a very competitive league, is now even stronger with the addition of West Virginia University and has the potential to be one of the better leagues in the NCAA."
Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12-member conference that sponsors 23 championships and is one of 11 members of the Football Bowl Subdivison (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in six (6) states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio. In addition a 13th school - University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. -- is an affiliate member for football only.
Current MAC schools that hold full membership and the year they joined are -- East Division: University of Akron (1992), Bowling Green State University (1952), University at Buffalo (1998), Kent State University (1951), Miami University (1947), Ohio University (1946). West Division: Ball State University (1973), Central Michigan University (1971), Eastern Michigan University (1971), Northern Illinois University (1975-86, rejoined in 1997), University of Toledo (1950), Western Michigan University (1947). The University of Massachusetts (2012) competes in the East Division in football only. The conference office is based in Cleveland, Ohio.