Formed in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference consisted of eleven New England NCAA Division III institutions.
Six teams competed in men's sports: Albertus Magnus College, Daniel Webster College, Emerson College, Endicott College, Johnson & Wales University, and Rivier College. The six were joined by Emmanuel College, Pine Manor College, St. Joseph College, Simmons College, and Suffolk University and competed in an eleven-team women's league. Norwich University, Western New England College, Southern Vermont College, and the men's teams of Suffolk University were added in 1998. Lasell College, Mount Ida College, and St. Joseph's College of Maine begin conference play in 2007. Anna Maria College became a new member in the fall of 2011.
Phil Rowe of Daniel Webster College was elected the conference's first commissioner in 1995. He was succeeded by Jim Domoracki of Rivier College in the fall of 1996. Dave Morris of Johnson & Wales was elected in June, 1997. Donna Ruseckas of Daniel Webster took over for Morris in July of 1999. Mike Theulen of Western New England served from August, 2000 to August, 2001. John Parente of Johnson & Wales served from August, 2001 and Joe Walsh became commissioner in August of 2005.