When you think of the most dominant athletic program in the state of New Jersey, you may think of Division I programs. But, if you look closely at every college in the Garden State, there is a Division III university in South Jersey that could, arguably, take the title: our very own Rowan University.
If this was five years ago, this might not have been true, but looking at how the Profs have been able to dominate the current 2022-23 athletic year, it’s hard not to have the conversation. Currently, Rowan is in the midst of something that has never been done before in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC). Incredibly, eight Rowan sports teams have come out on top of the conference during this academic year.
Some may argue that the Profs are not facing the same teams that Division I programs like Rutgers and Princeton are facing, but this isn’t a debate about which school has the best teams. That can never be a valid argument because DI schools are always going to be able to recruit “better athletes” since they provide the biggest athletic scholarships.
Despite this fact, Rowan has still been able to bring in talented athletes from the South Jersey area, just look at Kristiina Castagnola’s resume. Their ability to find diverse, strong athletes has made Rowan a powerhouse within their athletic conference.
Rowan is even starting to make a name for themselves on the national stage.
As the men’s track & field relay teams continue to break Division III national record after national record, the field hockey team is known as one of the best teams in the country after making multiple final fours in the five years.
People who don’t follow Division III sports, or even respect it, might not think anything of it, but look at it this way: Rowan is only able to beat competition within their division. Division III schools don’t have certain advantages that Division I programs have. It would be unfair to put Rowan up against a school like Rutgers because they don’t have the same advantages and facilities the Scarlet Knights do.
When it comes to competing against the teams on their level, Rowan is doing a much better job than Rutgers and Princeton. The Whit can’t find a time when either of these institutions won eight conference titles in one year, even excluding the spring seasons that haven’t occurred yet.
For a while, Rowan has been one of the top competitors in the NJAC. In 2021, all fall game-based sports made their respective championship, but not all of them were able to come out on top. This year, however, has been unprecedented in terms of NJAC dominance.
Even the sports teams who haven’t been named NJAC Champions this year have been top three in the conference. There isn’t one Rowan team that isn’t a worry for all the other teams in the conference, including all three spring sports as the Profs baseball, softball and lacrosse teams were all in the top two of their respective preseason polls.
If this becomes a trend, Rowan could get to a point where they don’t have conference rivals anymore since no other team in the NJAC could keep up.
So while Rowan teams aren’t playing the Ohio States and Michigans of the country every year and don’t have what people consider “DI talent” — an argument that has its own complications as many Rowan athletes have transferred from DI schools or have moved up to that level — they do have the best track record when it comes to conference championships as of late.
And to us at The Whit, that is what we are looking at when we give a school the name of “most dominant college in the state” — but that’s just another title the Profs are winning.
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