SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – 2016 New England Football Conference (NEFC) champion Western New England University is headed back to the NCAA Division III Tournament, as the Golden Bears received their third bid in program history when the NCAA announced its field of 32 during the selection show this evening.
Western New England (10-0, 7-0 NEFC) will have the opportunity to host an NCAA Tournament contest for the first time next Saturday, Nov. 19, with Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) champion Husson (Maine) University (9-1, 7-0 ECFC) slated to visit Golden Bear Stadium for a first round matchup.
Western New England will be making consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history after earning the NEFC's automatic bid in the final year of the conference's existence. The Golden Bears clinched the NEFC title with their 41-22 triumph at Salve Regina on Nov. 5, before completing their second straight undefeated regular season yesterday with a 36-29 victory over Coast Guard.
All three of Western New England's trips to the NCAA Tournament have come under 12th year head coach Keith Emery. The Golden Bears made their NCAA debut back in 2011, suffering a 62-24 defeat to Salisbury (Md.), before falling to Johns Hopkins 52-20 last November. Husson, which boasts the nation's top-ranked defense (152.4 YPG), is appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the second time and first since 2014.
The NCAA Tournament gets underway with first round action on Nov. 19 and continues over the next four weekends, with the Division III champion being crowned at the Stagg Bowl in Salem, Va. on Friday, Dec. 16.
Release courtesy of the Western New England Sports Information Department.
ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE
The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of ten full member and three associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference currently administers championships in 16 intercollegiate sports with that number set to increase next year with the addition of football.