Marist Celebrates 100 MAAC Championships
College is first in conference history to reach historic milestone
POUGHKEEPSIE (Feb. 20, 2014) – Perhaps it was fitting that one of the most successful programs in the annals of the Marist Athletics Department achieved a championship that will be forever associated with a milestone.
On Feb. 15, the women’s swimming & diving program won the 100th Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship in school history. It was the 15th championship won by the program, tying it for the lead with men’s crew for the highest total on campus. Marist became the first school in the conference, which was established in 1981, to reach the landmark of 100 championships.
Up until 1996, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs competed in the sport-specific Metropolitan Swimming and Diving Conference. Since then, men’s and women’s swimming and diving have combined for 27 MAAC championships, a figure that speaks to the sustained excellence the programs have enjoyed under the direction of Larry VanWagner.
VanWagner believes that the move to the MAAC enabled swimming and diving to be more directly involved in Marist’s overall athletics efforts, which in turn brought a great deal of attention to the sport.
"It was a decision that I think has helped put the spotlight on our sport specifically over the last 18 years, and it’s worked out tremendously," VanWagner said. "To have this opportunity be the 100th MAAC champion is really special. I feel very gratified that we can show specifically, in black and white, how much of a contribution swimming and diving makes to the overall success of the athletics department, and in terms of the image of the College as well."
Hitting the century mark is only possible with a diverse amount of programs being able to achieve greatness. Indeed, the championship success ranges from programs that won titles before Marist even became a full-fledged MAAC member in 1997 (football, men’s crew, women’s crew, men’s swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving) to those that didn’t have their inaugural season until the 21st century (water polo).
The tradition was started by the football team, which won the MAAC Football League championship in 1994. That was the team’s first season in the league, and second after moving from Division III to Division I-AA, under third-year head coach Jim Parady.
"For us to get into a very good football league at that time, and to be able to come away with a championship really allowed our program to grow and move forward," said Parady, who will be entering his 23rd season as head coach in 2014.
The roll call of 100 championships also includes programs that have won as many as 12 (men’s crew), and eight (men’s swimming and diving, women’s basketball) consecutive championships. The men’s and women’s crew programs have combined to win a quarter of Marist’s MAAC championships, with the men earning 15 titles and the women capturing 10.
"I think it’s a terrific milestone for Marist and for our athletics program," Director of Athletics Tim Murray said. "I think we should all be proud of the accomplishments of our student-athletes and our coaches over the past 20 years. I’m proud of the fact that there are so many Marist athletes who have graduated and will always have the memories of winning a championship. I also think that not only did we win championships, but we won championships with quality individuals who took great pride in representing Marist in the best possible way."
The overall success of the Red Foxes has resulted in 43 NCAA Tournament appearances and 10 triumphs in NCAA Tournament play. Marist also owns the conference record with 11 Commissioner’s Cups, which are awarded annually as a symbol of overall excellence in the championship athletics events conducted within the MAAC. The Red Foxes have also led the conference in Academic Honor Roll selections for 12 consecutive years.
MAAC Championships By Sport
15 – Women’s Swimming & Diving, Men’s Crew
12 – Men’s Swimming & Diving
10 – Men’s Tennis, Women’s Crew
9 – Women’s Basketball
5 – Baseball
4 – Women’s Cross Country, Women’s Tennis, Water Polo
3 – Football, Men’s Soccer
2 – Women’s Lacrosse, Softball
1 – Men’s Lacrosse, Women’s Soccer
Click here to view a detailed history of Marist's MAAC Championships (external site).