Members of the executive committee of the North Atlantic Conference toured the campus of Towson State yesterday as part of an effort to determine whether to add a ninth school next season.
Stuart Haskell, commissioner of the New England-based conference, led the seven-member group that met with the Towson coaching staff and toured the campus and athletic facilities. On Tuesday night the group had dinner and met with school president Hoke L. Smith and other Towson administrators.
Haskell could not be reached for comment, but Towson athletic director Bill Hunter was happy with the visit.
"I thought things went well," Hunter said. "Their impression of the school seemed favorable. If they hadn't heard of Towson State before, I'm sure their impression is quite favorable now."
Even so, Towson -- a member of the East Coast Conference -- is a long way from being assured a spot in the league for the 1991-92 school year. Towson's application to the conference came just over a month ago, and Hunter admits there may not be enough time or funds for the league to take in the Tigers.
"I guess the biggest obstacle is whether they can budgetarily make the move for next year," Hunter said. "With new guidelines, schools have to play more Division I [schools]. While we can play Loyola, UMBC or Mount St. Mary's, they're isolated and have to travel 150 or 200 miles to those games. It might be easier to handle us a year from now, but there's not a lot of time to plan for the upcoming year."
The decision should be made by the first week in April.
The East Coast Conference will have at most five teams next season regardless of what decision is made about Towson. The ECC must have at least six members to be eligible for the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament.
If Towson were admitted to the North Atlantic next season, it would allow members of the basketball team to aim for a third straight NCAA tournament appearance. If the school is not accepted, several team members have indicated they may sit out a season.
North Atlantic members include Northeastern, Vermont, Hartford, Maine, Boston University and New Hampshire. Delaware and Drexel, members of the ECC this year, will begin play next season.