Collegiate conference head works off campus in rural community
by Christian Avard
Jul 29, 2010 | 1184 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Julie Muller at her home.
Julie Muller at her home.
WHITINGHAM- Believe it or not, there are two NCAA division III athletic conferences located in southern Vermont. One’s first guess would be places like Brattleboro, Bellows Falls or Bennington, right? Not quite. In fact, they are headquartered in the least likeliest of places: Whitingham. Why there, one may ask? According to Julie Muller, an opportunity presented itself and she went for it.

Muller, of Whitingham, is the commissioner of the North Atlantic and Eastern Collegiate football conferences. Both conferences comprise NCAA division III schools based in northern New England and Muller handles the day-to-day operations from her remote location on Maple Drive.

Muller has been involved in college athletics for 22 years. She graduated from Fairleigh-Dickinson University in 1988 and played field hockey for their division I squad. She was hired as Fairleigh-Dickinson’s part-time assistant athletic director, worked full time as the State University of New York at Stony Brook’s assistant athletic director, and moved to Vermont in 2004. Muller said she was about to enroll in a PhD program until she learned about a new job opportunity at the NAC and ECFC in 2005.

“In the 1990s, the NCAA went through some big changes. (The NCAA) changed the lines of communication from independent institutions to conferences and the whole structure shifted,” said Muller. “There were 45 division III conferences by May 2005 and the (NAC) opened up. That’s when I threw my hat into the ring.”

The North Atlantic Conference comprises 10 NCAA division III schools from around New England. They are Castleton State College; Green Mountain College; Husson University; Johnson State College; Lyndon State College; Thomas College; University of Maine at Farmington; Maine Maritime Academy; New England College; and Colby-Sawyer College.

The Eastern Collegiate Football Conference comprises eight NCAA division III schools from around New England as well as New York and Washington, DC. They are Norwich University; Mount Ida College; Gallaudet University; Husson University; State University of New York-Maritime College; Castleton State College; Becker College; and Anna Maria College.

Muller oversees activities in both conferences and her job entails several responsibilities. She represents both conferences on regional and national NCAA committees and works closely with the presidents and athletic directors of the member institutions to ensure the organization is fulfilling its mission. Right now, Muller is working on the North Atlantic and Eastern Collegiate conference schedules for 2011-2012 and updating the conferences’ rules and regulations, and the athletes’ code of conduct. Another important aspect of her job is strengthening the North Atlantic and Eastern Collegiate football conferences.

“One of the challenges of this job has been significant membership shifts, just like we’re seeing today (with schools switching from conference to conference). It happens in the small ones as well. We went through this shift in the 2007-2008 year when Massachusetts schools formed their own conferences. We went from 13 to six schools and now we have 10. There are always membership changes and it’s nerve-racking,” said Muller.

Muller said the NAC had one of its best years ever. Husson University represented the NAC in NCAA division III women’s field hockey, soccer, basketball, and softball championships and were runners-up in the women’s lacrosse NAC-Northeastern Atlantic Conference championship. The Castleton State College mens’ soccer team made it to the division III ECAC soccer championship and the NCAA division III baseball regional finals. The University of Maine at Farmington mens’ basketball team made it to the second round of the NCAA division III championships and the Maine Maritime girls’ volleyball team made it to the NCAA division III regional finals. “We’re seeing a significant improvement in our programs. They’re starting to do well on the national division III scene and they continue to improve,” said Muller.

Muller enjoys working at home with its relaxed environment, a flexible work schedule, and beautiful views of Whitingham from her office balcony. Although she misses the interactions with student athletes on campus, Muller maintains it’s the perfect place to run two collegiate conferences. “I love to ski and play golf on a regular basis. Working from home allows me to be part of a community and living in southern Vermont has been a positive experience for me,” said Muller.
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