Chicago State University To Join Northeast Conference

Move represents significant progress for CSU Athletics’ expansion strategy

CHICAGO (Dec. 5, 2023) Chicago State University (CSU) today announced it has accepted an invitation to join the Northeast Conference (NEC) beginning in the fall of 2024. This decision on a new conference home, which was unanimously approved on Monday by the CSU Board of Trustees, marks another milestone for CSU’s Athletic Department; the department recently revealed plans to add a women’s triathlon program in fall 2024 and launched a fundraising campaign to expand its sports offerings, most notably pursuing the potential to add FCS Division I football (Football Championship Subdivision), which would be the only Division I football program in the City of Chicago. The full NEC conference membership will be for the university’s 15 men’s and women’s sports.

CSU President Zaldwaynaka "Z" Scott, CSU’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Monique Carroll and NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris will announce the official partnership at an 11 a.m. press conference today.

“Chicago State University has determined the Northeast Conference is the best fit for the university and our athletic programs,” said President Scott. “Our move to the NEC, a thriving conference with strong academic and athletic traditions, will continue to raise the university’s profile by increasing its visibility and our growing reach across the country. We look forward to a great conference relationship and beginning a new era of sports programming.”

Beginning in fall 2024, the NEC’s membership will consist of eight schools including Central Connecticut State University, Chicago State, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Le Moyne College, Long Island University, Saint Francis University, Stonehill College and Wagner College.

“Today, we enthusiastically welcome Chicago State University into the NEC community and eagerly anticipate the profound impact and competitive spirit that the Cougar student-athletes will bring to our conference,” said Morris. “This addition not only solidifies the NEC at eight full-time institutions for the 2024-25 academic year but also signifies a strategic entry into the Windy City, the nation’s third-largest media market. As Chicago State continues its upward trajectory, we look forward to a dynamic partnership that enriches both the conference and the vibrant campus life at CSU.”

The NEC’s member institutions will compete in 25 championship sports in 2024-25: baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s bowling, men’s and women’s cross country, field hockey, football, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s indoor track and field, men's and women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s outdoor track and field, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s tennis, and men's and women’s volleyball.

The primary points of focus throughout this process have been the academic, personal and athletic success of CSU student-athletes. In addition, the NEC and CSU share a similar vision for growth and expansion. The university will be working with the conference to ease travel challenges and game scheduling, much of which will continue to occur during the weekends. 

“The NEC stood out because of its mission to support student-athletes in competition, in the classroom and in their community,” said CSU’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Dr. Monique Carroll. “The NEC also has a strong vision for future growth that aligns with our own. We look forward to growing with it and to giving our students an opportunity to compete for championships.”

CSU Athletics has been independent since 2022; the school was previously a member of the Western Athletic Conference. 

Currently, CSU Athletics is composed of 15 intercollegiate teams involving more than 150 student-athletes who compete in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, indoor and outdoor track, and volleyball. Expanding these offerings is part of a larger strategy to attract more students and enhance their experience at the 156-year-old institution. 

For more information on the exploratory committee, potential sponsorship opportunities, or upcoming Chicago State Athletics schedules, visit

About the Northeast Conference

Founded in 1981, the Northeast Conference's mission has remained remarkably consistent over its 42 years - to provide opportunities for student-athletes to achieve their fullest potential in the classroom, in athletic competition and in the community. Its focus is on the areas of student-athlete achievement, academic excellence, integrity, sportsmanship, diversity, equity and inclusion, innovation, community partnership and national engagement.

About Chicago State University

Chicago State University, founded in 1867, is the oldest public university in the Chicago Metropolitan area. The University’s five colleges offer over 70 undergraduate and graduate degree-granting and non-degree programs. CSU is committed to equity in education, serving as the only U.S. Department of Education-designated four-year Predominantly Black Institution in Illinois and ranked by a Harvard economist in the top 4% of public and private universities nationwide in supporting our graduates’ economic mobility. The University serves as a prominent civic space on the greater South Side of Chicago by hosting a multitude of athletic, educational, cultural, and recreational activities. The University is located near public transit that provides convenient access to the campus.

About Chicago State Athletics

Chicago State University Athletics is composed of 13 intercollegiate teams involving over 150 student-athletes that compete in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and volleyball. CSU held memberships in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and NCAA Division II before transitioning to NCAA Division I in 1994.

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Media Contacts:
Jim Christman

Jake Meister, KemperLesnik

Kelly Pawlak, KemperLesnik