New England College football will join Commonwealth Coast Conference

Kevin Kelly’s New England College football program will debut as a member of the CmAfter a half-century without a football team, New England College has named Kevin Kelly as its new head coach.

Kevin Kelly’s New England College football program will debut as a member of the CmAfter a half-century without a football team, New England College has named Kevin Kelly as its new head coach. Courtesy photograph

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 11-15-2023 9:03 PM

New England College football – a program that’s restarting play next fall after a 50-year hiatus – announced on Wednesday that it will participate as an associate member of the Commonwealth Coast Conference beginning in 2025.

“Partnering with a tradition-rich campus like New England College is an exciting opportunity for fans, members and, most importantly, student-athletes as we continue to build our football brand and strategically position ourselves within the football landscape,” CCC commissioner Patrick Colbert said in a statement. “The addition of an eighth institution allows our Conference to create a competitive and robust conference schedule which also allows our football programs the opportunity to strategically schedule quality non-conference opponents.”

NEC President Dr. Wayne F. Lesperance, Jr. last June announced that football would be returning to campus. The Pilgrims will play a shortened schedule in 2024 before kicking off a full season in 2025.

In August, the school announced the hire of Kevin Kelly as the head coach. Kelly most recently coached in the XFL for the New York Guardians, where he was the linebackers coach for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He also had previous stints at Georgetown, where he was named Patriot League coach of the year in 2011, and at Dartmouth, where he was an assistant for the 1991 team that won the Ivy League.

Other schools in the CCC include Curry College, Endicott College, Nichols College, the University of New England and Western New England University. When NEC joins the conference, the school will be one of three associate members, along with Maine Maritime Academy and Husson University.

“We are thrilled to be joining the Commonwealth Coast Conference as an associate member in football,” NEC athletic director Dave DeCew said in the school’s release. “First and foremost, we want to thank Commissioner Colbert and the Board of Directors for their support. NEC’s alignment with strong academic institutions has tremendous value, and we look forward to the competitive landscape of CCC football. We know it will be a great challenge for us, but it is an opportunity that we are investing in and excited to take on.”

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