Originally published in Castine Patriot, January 12, 2023
Maine Maritime Academy reinstates football program
Maine Maritime Academy reinstated its NCAA Division III Football Program with varsity competition set to begin in 2025. The decision was announced by MMA President Jerry Paul on January 9, according to a press release. The academy also will compete in the Commonwealth Coast Conference beginning in 2025.
The Mariners will begin competition as a sub-varsity program in 2023 and continue to replenish the roster through a sub-varsity 2024 season. The academy has opened a search for its next head coach, which will be followed by a search for two coordinator-level positions.
Maine Maritime is preparing for a full, 10-game slate in 2025, coinciding with the first year of competition in the CCC. The CCC features two Maine colleges, Husson University and the University of New England, as well as Curry College, Endicott College, Nichols College and Western New England University. Salve Regina University is currently a member of the CCC but is slated to move to the New England Men’s and Women’s Athletic Conference in 2023.
Steve Peed, MMA Director of Athletics, said, “I am incredibly excited about the energy that has been building around the football program over the past several months. The restoration of football really ends the pandemic-footing we have been standing on in this department for too long and makes us whole again. I am excited to shift from the fundraising phase and into the phase of rebuilding the program into something our alumni will be proud of and into a point of pride for the campus and Castine communities.”
Conversations are already taking place with Massachusetts Maritime regarding the resumption of the annual Admiral’s Cup, which has been played 59 times dating back to 1946. The academy will seek to create a varsity non-conference schedule that features institutions with a similar mission.
Maine Maritime’s return to football follows an indefinite suspension that was announced on August 14, 2020, because of financial challenges faced by the academy resulting from the pandemic, including the need for two additional sea terms to alleviate the backlog of sea days created by the cancellation of the 2020 summer sea term.
MMA began fundraising to restore the program in September and raised $562,000 over a three-month period, covering 75 percent of the academy’s unbudgeted costs to restart the program’s operation. That effort was taken up by the Maine Maritime Moving the Chains Committee, consisting of Chairman Ed Scott, Vice Chair President Len Tyler (Ret.), Stephen Dick, David Dodge, Bill Full, Larry Burrill, Wayne Norton and Jeff Reidel.
The Harold Alfond Foundation was the most substantial contributor to the effort, supplying $250,000 by way of an unrestricted matching grant. The academy received $566,778 in gifts from 155 donors.