Founded in 1995, the Great Northeast Athletic Conference originally consisted of eleven NCAA Division III institutions across New England. Six teams competed in men’s sports: Albertus Magnus College, Daniel Webster College, Emerson College, Endicott College, Johnson & Wales University, and Rivier University. The six were joined by Emmanuel College, Pine Manor College, University of Saint Joseph (CT), 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 Saint Joseph’s College of Maine began conference play in 2007. Anna Maria College became a new member in the fall of 2011. With the addition of new full members Regis College (July 2017) and Colby-Sawyer College (July 2018), the GNAC will have more than 3,200 student athletes competing for 20 conference championships.
Phil Rowe of Daniel Webster College was elected the conference’s first commissioner in 1995. He was succeeded by Jim Domoracki of Rivier 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 1999. Mike Theulen of Western New England served from August 2000 to August 2001. John Parente of Johnson & Wales served from August 2001 until Joe Walsh became commissioner in August of 2005.
Michael Ghika was named the first-ever full-time Assistant Commissioner in 2014, and Annie Jenkins became the conference’s full-time third staffer with the 2018-19 academic year.