The University of Maine-Fort Kent and the University of Maine-Machias, along with their Sunrise Conference partners, will be allowed to offer a limited number of athletic scholarships next season.
They previously hadn’t been allowed to offer athletic aid.
And the University of Maine-Presque Isle will join the conference next fall.
University of Maine-Fort Kent athletic director and men’s soccer coach Bill Ashby said the conference’s presidents approved the scholarships and UMPI’s inclusion in the league.
He said the stipulation on scholarships is they will be allowed to offer “no more than 20 percent of the NAIA maximum.”
However, it will be up to each school to determine what percentage they will offer.
Ashby said UMFK president Richard Cost and vice president John Murphy will determine what they will be able to offer.
He said NAIA Division I and Division II schools have the same scholarship limits in every sport except basketball. In basketball, NAIA Division I schools are allowed 11 scholarships while Division II institutions are allowed 6.
UMFK is a Division II school in basketball.
In men’s and women’s soccer, they are allowed 12 full athletic scholarships; women’s volleyball is allowed eight; golf has five; baseball and softball are each allowed to offer 12 and cross country teams have a five-scholarship limit.
“This should help us attract better student-athletes and keep the athletes we have,” said Ashby. “It should also help us compete a little better on a national basis.”
In addition, he said it will “help us level the playing field” even within the state.
Most of Maine’s small college teams are NCAA Division III and they aren’t allowed to offer athletic scholarships.
“It’s probably not going to help us move ahead of those programs but it will help us catch up to them,” said Ashby.
UMPI won’t be allowed to give out scholarships because it is affiliated with both NCAA Division III and NAIA, according to Ashby.
Besides UMFK, UM-Machias and UM-Presque Isle, the other schools in the conference are Vermont-based College of St. Joseph and Vermont Technical College; New York-based schools Paul Smith’s College and SUNY-Canton and Fisher College of Boston.
Ashby is excited to have Aroostook County rival UM-Presque Isle back in the same conference with UMFK.
“It’s definitely a positive. They will be our travel partner,” said Ashby. “They’re a great rival. It’s a good school with a good sports program. They’ve got physical education and recreation programs and they’re able to attract good athletes.”
Renovations planned at Colby
Colby College will close Seaverns Field and the Alfond Track starting April 28 so the facilities can be renovated.
The college is rebuilding the track, installing an artificial turf playing surface on the field and putting in lights for the football field and track area.
The construction of Alfond Stadium was approved by Colby trustees earlier this month. The $6 million project includes landscaping that features four-to-five-foot berms behind both end zones and plantings that will give the field the feel of a stadium.
Alfond Stadium will be named for the family of the late Harold Alfond and Bibby (Levine) Alfond. The gift from the Harold Alfond Foundation was the last personal commitment Harold Alfond made to Colby before his death in November.
The facilities are scheduled to be closed to the public through late August, reopening in time for the Mules’ football season.
DeWitt qualifies for NCAAs
UMass Lowell senior Joey DeWitt of Ellsworth met NCAA provisional marks at the Princeton Larry Ellis Invitational Saturday.
DeWitt finished 31st overall with a time of 3 minutes, 42.67 seconds in the 1,500-meter run to qualify. He was one of three UMass Lowell athletes to qualify.
He also placed 22nd overall in the 800 with a time of 1:57.55.
UNE’s Tarr, Meza to attend event
Ryan Tarr and Kristin Meza of the University of New England in Biddeford have been selected to attend the NCAA Division III Student-Athlete Leadership Conference.
Tarr, a sophomore from Hermon, started all 17 soccer games last fall for the Nor’easters. Meza, a freshman from San Diego, plays on the UNE women’s soccer team.