Last week's desertion by Rider College having dealt yet another blow to the unstable East Coast Conference, Towson State athletic director Bill Hunter will be meeting with the commissioner of the North Atlantic Conference this week in LTC hopes of renewing efforts to enter the New England-based league.
Hunter and North Atlantic commissioner Stu Haskell have agreed to meet in Orono, Maine, at a time yet to be determined. The Towson athletic director will further explore ways to get his school into the league that last month voted -- for financial reasons -- not to accept the Tigers for the upcoming academic year. The soonest Towson could enter the NAC would be 1992-93.
"I called Stu before coming up, and he agreed to a meeting," said Hunter, who is in Maine -- where the NAC has its headquarters -- for Towson's opening-round game of the National Collegiate Athletic Association baseball tournament today against Mississippi State. "The North Atlantic is still our preference, and Rider's moving just makes it more pressing."
Rider announced Friday that it would enter the Northeast Conference in the fall of 1992, making it the sixth school to leave the ECC in the past two years. To qualify for automatic berths in the NCAA basketball tournament under NCAA rules, a conference must have at least three schools that have been members for five years. Without Rider, only Towson State and Hofstra would meet that criterion for 1992-93.
"Stability was a big factor in us leaving," said Dan Weber, the sports information director at Rider. "The ECC was a great league, but the league as it is now is not what it was all those years."
ECC commissioner John Carpenter expressed disappointment at Rider's departure.
"We will continue, as we have in the past, and we will try to find a solution to this seemingly never-ending dilemma," said Carpenter, a former Rider basketball coach.
The ECC's future will be the main topic of the league meetings, which begin Wednesday in the Poconos.
"It's usually a time when we'll discuss championships and scheduling," Hunter said. "This year, most of that will be immaterial."
Two of last year's ECC members -- Delaware and Drexel -- will begin play in the North Atlantic Conference next season. Brooklyn College and the University of Buffalo recently joined the ECC, bringing the league back up to seven teams for 1991-92.