Sunday, December 16, 2012

Talking a Look at MAAC's Decision To Add 2 Schools

The rumors that began a couple weeks ago were accurate and the confirmation came Friday out of a meeting of MAAC school presidents at a meeting in New York City on Friday.

Quinnipiac and Monmouth, current members of the Northeast Conference, were invited to join the MAAC and both universities accepted by later in the day.

So, what does it mean?

It means the MAAC won't drop to just nine members (with the impeding departure of Loyola for the Patriot League), but instead will expand to 11.

There had been some thought that a third school (rumors swirled that it would be either Wagner or Bryant) would also get an invitation to increase membership to an even-numbered 12, but that won't happen.

A number of league officials have confirmed that the addition of the two new members beginning this September (the 2013-14 season) will be it for now.

But, it might still come in the not-so-distant future.

MAAC commissioner Rich Ensor indicated that the league is indeed contemplating adding a 12th member, but not for 2013-14. The league presidents meet next on May 28.

"I think the 12th spot is still on the table (to be considered at the May 28 meeting)," Ensor said.

Siena athletic director John D'Argenio told the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union that conference athletic directors will be discussing scheduling for next season and whether the league wants to go to a 20-game conference slate (each league program playing every other one twice during regular-season play).

Eventually, if the league does add a 12th team, it's not a certainty that membership would be split into two divisions.

The additional teams for the 2013-14 season also means a change in the post-season tournament's structure.

League officials speculated that it's likely the 2013-14 post season brackets will include  early round byes for higher-finishing teams.

In an e-mail, Ensor indicated that there could be three teams receiving byes ("but, still to be determined.")

However, if three teams received first round byes, one team would also have to receive a second bye (through the quarterfinals) to facilitate four teams for the semifinals.

Or, teams finishing first through fifth would receive a preliminary round bye with teams finishing sixth through 11th participating in a play-in round to sen three of those teams to join the top five in the quarterfinal round.

Ensor indicated that in seeking out Monmouth and Quinnipiac for membership, the conference's Council of Presidents sought to add private schools that:

Are compatible (to current membership) in academics and athletics, that emphasize basketball; are like-minded in enrollment target markets and provide an alumni base that will assist in the maintenance of a neutral-site basketball championship venue through ticket sales, attendance and hotel room reservations.

Will provide visibility in additional major metro markets and the opportunity to manage travel considerations for member schools; will assist with the MAAC's partnership with ESPN by providing exposure in large metropolitan areas of the country; and, provide the MAAC with state-of-the-art playing facilities that include high-tech broadcast capabilities and fan amenities.

Ensor noted that the two incoming programs both have new playing facilities for basketball that will move to the top of the list of league on-campus facilities.

Monmouth, West Long Branch, N.J., plays in a 4,100-seat Multipurpose Activities Center which opened in August, 2009.

Quinnipiac, located in Hamden, Conn., plays in the TD Bank Sports Center, a five-year-old arena that accomodates 3,570 for basketball.

Published reports indicate the two new MAAC programs  will each pay a $250,000 exit fee to leave the NEC.

Ensor said current MAAC members have committed to remain in the league for at least the next three years, with varying buyouts based on notice provided.

"Not expecting changes (departures)," said Ensor, in an e-mail. "but it is a fluid period in conference alignment that is constantly evolving."

The addition of Monmouth creates a natural geographic rivalry with current conference member Rider. The two schools are about 60 miles apart.

Quinnipiac gives the conference a second New England presence, as well as a geographic rivalry with Fairfield. Those two schools are about 25 miles apart.


Yonkers said...

Just uninspired and lame thinking by the MAAC in adding these two schools, they bring nothing in terms of buzz and are both terrible in basketball.

If we are going to try and raid the NEC, why not get Robert Morris, a much better basketballing school than these two? And why not be bold, and even try to lure LaSalle or Fordham back? Or what about Bucknell? I would rather stay at 9 schools than add Monmouth and Quinnipiac. It is a step back for a conference that garnered an at-large bid just last year.

Steve Amedio said...

Actually, I perceive this as good additions to the MAAC. Both schools really emphasize basketball and each has relatively new playing facilities better than any other on-campus facility in the MAAC.
Quinnipiac has been good in basketball for several years ... 18-14 last year, 22-10 two years ago, 23-10 three years ago. And, a nationaly post-season tournament each of those three years.
Monmouth hasn't had quite that level of success, 33-60 over the previous three years and 5-6 this year. It hired King Rice as its head coach prior to last year and he seems to be turning things in the right direction.
Both schools fit the MAAC philosophy.
LaSalle? That school has been approached a number of times over the year and has no intention of leaving the A-10. Why would it?
Same with Fordham.
Bucknell is a very high academic institution and is a perfect fit in its current situation, the Patriot League. It's not leaving that league.
Keep an open mind. These are two very good programs that will be nice additions ot the MAAC.