Beginning next fall there will be more Division I college soccer on Long Island.
As part of a move by Long Island University to combine its athletic programs and shift from Division II, the men’s and women’s soccer programs now at university’s Post and Brooklyn campuses will become one team each and be based in Brookville.
On Wednesday, university officials announced that all athletic programs will be unified into a single NCAA Division I program, calling it a “next step” to elevate the Long Island University brand nationally. Teams will compete in the Northeast Conference, currently the home conference for the LIU-Brooklyn Blackbirds.
“We understand the importance of athletics in enhancing our brand nationwide by unifying our university community and our 200,000 alumni around the world,” said Kimberly R. Cline, LIU’s president. “Our student-athletes competing at the highest-level plays a major role in this. We are extremely pleased that the NCAA has embraced this vision for our university’s future.”
LIU’s history in athletics includes a host of accolades such as a combined 23 national championships, 215 conference titles and 362 All-Americans.
All teams will compete under the Long Island University banner with a nick-named yet to be chosen. Team colors will be blue and gold selected to honor the tradition of both campuses.
“Today’s announcement regarding our athletic program’s enhancements will allow us to focus our resources on improving opportunities for our students while continuing the tradition of excellence of our university,” said Debbie DeJong, LIU Director of Athletics. “This is an exciting beginning to the next chapter in LIU Athletics.”
The main questions yet to be answered for the men’s and women’s soccer programs are the head coaches for each. An online Q&A provided by LIU addressed the coaching situation across all sports generically, saying, “LIU is committed to employing the best coaching staff to position our programs and student-athletes for success both academically and athletically.”
Current head soccer coaches for the teams at the Post campus are first-year men’s coach Michael Mordocco and Mark Dawson, who is now in his 11th season as head coach of the women’s soccer team. In Brooklyn, men’s head coach TJ Kostecky is now in his 20th year while Eleri Earnshaw is in her second year as head coach of the women’s team.
The move to Division I also sets up the possibility of out-of-conference rivalry games with the likes of St. John’s, Hofstra and Stony Brook. This season, the Stony Brook women’s soccer team played St. John’s and Hofstra, while the men’s teams at Hofstra and Stony Brook again faced off this season.