FRANKLIN — According to Dean College men’s lacrosse coach Matt Schairer, the former King Philip Regional High great, it’s a “win-win” situation for the Bulldogs as they join the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC).
Dean is currently a member of the New England Collegiate Conference for all sports, excluding football, and will join the GNAC for the 2020-21 academic year.
“It’s definitely good, the GNAC is a very respectable conference,” Schairer said, coming off of his fourth season in guiding the Dean men’s lacrosse team (featuring Foxboro High grad Lou Piccolo) to a 7-6 record.
“Going into the GNAC definitely increases our profile among New England Division III schools,” Schairer added. “I know that for lacrosse it will be a very even league. There are a lot of good teams; we can be competitive.”
Dean, which has an enrollment of some 1,200 students, mostly from New England and the Northeast region, fits the profile.
Schairer and the Dean men’s lacrosse team will join a nine-member GNAC including Albertus Magnus, St. Joseph’s (Maine), Johnson and Wales, Norwich, Rivier, Emmanuel, Lasell, Regis and Anna Maria.
“Dean is a perfect match with the GNAC’s core values, sport sponsorships, and is like-minded in many ways with our current members,” GNCAC Commissioner Joe Walsh said. “The college is extremely committed to the athletic department, its programs, and we are excited for this addition to help enhance the student-athlete experience for everyone across the conference.”
The addition of Dean College will keep the GNAC at 13 full core members, as Suffolk University will exit the GNAC starting with the 2019-20 academic year.
Dean College football will continue to compete in the Eastern College Football Conference, and the school will begin sponsoring women’s golf in 2020-21.
Founded in 1995, the GNAC annually sponsors 22 championships.
“Our move to the GNAC marks the next chapter for Dean Athletics and represents a significant opportunity for our student-athletes,” Dr. Paula Rooney, the President of Dean College said.
In all, 14 of Dean’s 15 varsity sport programs will compete initially in the GNAC — baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, men’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, and men’s and women’s volleyball.
The private, residential, non-profit college began its roots as a junior college over 100 years ago.
In Dean’s tenure in the NECC, the Bulldogs captured the league’s men’s cross-country championship in fall 2018 and the men’s lacrosse team title in 2018.
“We are extremely proud of our coaches, support staff, and student-athletes who have been true Bulldogs on their fields of play,” Athletic Director Todd Vasey said. “The GNAC is a conference that embodies balancing academics, athletic opportunity and community involvement as we constantly seek to enhance the experience of our student-athletes.”
“We’re not looking to grow much bigger (enrollment-wise),” Schairer said of Dean’s profile for academics and athletics. “This will be a good fit.”