FOOTBALL TO KICK OFF IN 2008, McNELLIE TO BE HEAD COACH; LEC ENTERS EXPLORATORY YEAR FOR NCAA DIVISION II STATUS
(PAINESVILLE, OHIO) - Varsity football will be added at Lake Erie College beginning with the fall, 2008 season announced President Michael T. Victor, and the College has named Mark McNellie as the team's first head coach. McNellie comes to Lake Erie from Mercyhurst College, where he spent the last 16 years on the football coaching staff, the last four as assistant head coach. Simultaneously, Lake Erie, an NCAA Division III institution, announces that it has entered an exploratory year with the NCAA to study potential reclassification to Division II status. The College's Board of Directors unanimously approved the initiatives at its July 22 meeting.
"Lake Erie College is in a growth phase and we are exploring ways our campus can expand in all areas, including athletics," said Victor. "College football is a sport that can be a great source of pride for a campus and the surrounding community. We see this program as a way to help increase male enrollment, while enhancing the Lake Erie College experience for the rest of our student body. Our new coach, Mark McNellie, is the perfect fit for the institution as it takes on this exciting challenge."
McNellie, 40, worked his way up the Mercyhurst staff over the past 16 seasons. He began as the defensive line coach in 1990, took over the linebackers in 1991 and became the defensive coordinator in 1992. He served as the offensive coordinator in 2001 and returned to oversee the defense the following year when he was elevated to assistant head coach. He was also involved with Mercyhurst's transition to scholarship football in 1998 and has overseen defenses which have been nationally ranked in several categories during his tenure. McNellie has served as the recruiting coordinator for Mercyhurst football and his main recruiting area has been Northeast Ohio.
Before his tenure at Mercyhurst, McNellie spent two years at Fairmont (W.Va.) State where he served one year each as the offensive line and defensive line coach. He is a 1988 graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College, where he was a three-time football letterman, and earned his master's degree from West Virginia University in 1990. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three children, Calvin (8), Carson (5) and Raegan (2).
The many components necessary for a football program are being thoroughly reviewed at this time. The College is exploring the use of area facilities and on-campus space. We have found a highly qualified coach to lead the charge," said Ken Krsolovic, athletic director. "We were looking for a dynamic individual with a pioneering spirit who can excite young men to enroll at Lake Erie College and be the leader of a brand new team on and off the field. Mark McNellie is the right person for this program."
Plans are also underway for additional athletic offerings, including further offerings for the women's varsity sports program. A study to learn of student interests will be conducted soon.
The Division II study would be the first part of the process for possible reclassification to that level of competition. "This initiative has the potential to further enhance our entire athletic program and its impact. We will carefully survey all of our options to optimize the program's future," said Krsolovic.
Formerly an all-women's College, Lake Erie began admitting men on a full-time basis in 1985 and has been challenged to increase the enrollment of male students since that time. "Many other schools of our size have made the decision to pursue football and it has made a phenomenal impact on their male enrollment," said Victor.
"This is an important milestone for the College," said Patricia Nocero, alumna from the Class of 1973 and emeritus member of the College board of directors. "Although Lake Erie College has been co-educational for 20 years now, the new football program will succeed in achieving a better balance of men and women on campus."
The College is currently home to five men's teams (soccer, cross country, golf, basketball, and baseball) and five women's teams (volleyball, soccer, cross country, basketball and softball). In 2005-06, the campus enrolled 657 traditional, full-time undergraduate students, and 27 percent were men.
Founded in 1856, Lake Erie College is a dynamic and progressive institution of higher education offering 26 undergraduate majors and master's degrees in business administration and education. This coeducational college, grounded in the liberal arts, enrolls just over 1,000 students of all ages and is nationally recognized for its equine studies programs and international learning opportunities for students. For more information, visit us on the web at www.lec.edu.
LAKE ERIE - Announced the addition of varsity football in 2008. Named Mark McNellie head football coach.