UPDATED 4/22/2020: Vermont State College System Chancellor Jeb Spaulding announced in a statement on Wednesday that the system will not shutter any of the three campuses originally scheduled to close for at least the next academic year. The statement made no mention of the future of athletic programs at those campuses.
NAC membership is in a state of uncertainty as the Vermont State College System Board of Trustees is set to vote on the closure of three schools, including Northern Vermont University’s Johnson and Lyndon campuses. The closure of the two NAC member schools would drop the conference from twelve members to ten members. “We’re all sort of waiting to see what will happen, and we’re certainly hoping for the best for our friends at Northern Vermont University, both Lyndon and Johnson,”said NAC commissioner Marcella Zalot.
Vermont State College System Chancellor Jeb Spaulding made the recommendation to close three schools in northeast Vermont late last week in face of a financial deficit that has reportedly grown close to $20 million. A vote was scheduled for April 20, but public support for the schools scheduled to be closed pushed the vote back by one week to April 27. “Certainly there was an outcry, and I think that’s helpful…those schools are economic drivers for northern Vermont, much like in Maine, [UMaine] Fort Kent and [UMaine] Presque Isle are economic drivers in Aroostook County,” said Zalot.
Losing two members on this short notice would create scheduling issues for the remaining ten NAC schools, with a possibility of a shortened schedule for the next academic year.
“Ten schools, in the long run, is not as sustainable as it used to be, because it means that not every school sponsors baseball, not every school sponsors women’s volleyball, not every school sponsors lacrosse,” said Zalot
Husson has Northern Vermont – Lyndon and Johnson on its schedule in all of its NAC sponsored sports. Husson athletic director Frank Pergolizzi says rescheduling games with less conference members would be difficult, but it would have no financial impact on the school. “Most of our coaches have already started looking for games just based on the initial announcement and initial possibility…in some places we’re not going to be able to replace the games,” said Pergolizzi.