Talk of future dominates ECC preview

November 15, 1990|By John W. Stewart

The agenda called for basketball, but much of the talk was of the uncertain future of the East Coast Conference.

The seven-member conference will be down to five by the end of the year, and continuation could be determined by legislation that will come before the National Collegiate Athletic Association convention in January.

Discussions occurred during the conference's annual basketball preview yesterday, a chance for coaches to say that individually several of their players are great, while overall downgrading their team's chances and boosting those of the opposition.

The conference has been doing this for years, but somehow it wasn't the same. Three members of the "family" were missing, with Bucknell, Lafayette and Lehigh having moved to the new Patriot League.

Such are the goings and comings that about the time the three announced they were leaving, the University of Maryland Baltimore County and Central Connecticut were added. Then, Delaware and Drexel announced they would be leaving at the end of the 1990-91 year for the North Atlantic Conference.

"The NCAA will not recognize a conference of five teams, and we wouldn't want that, anyway," said John Carpenter, East Coast Conference commissioner, after the luncheon meeting at the Holiday Inn-Timonium.

"The conference will sponsor a resolution at the [NCAA] convention, and it has already drawn support from quite a few other conferences. With the possibility of restructuring and a two-year period to implement it, we are asking for a waiver for the same length of time to give conferences [which seem to be changing daily] an opportunity to get settled."

Current requirements call for a five-year Division I membership for the institutions, and an eight-year period before a conference may receive an automatic bid to the postseason basketball tournament. At present, the ECC has an automatic berth for its tournament champion.

"We have done some things we will need to do to attract new teams," Carpenter said. "The remaining five [after Delaware and Drexel leave] will stay."

In addition to UMBC, Central Connecticut, Delaware and Drexel, the other conference members are Hofstra, Rider and Towson State.

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