Loyola feels reverberations as La Salle, Duquesne join Midwestern loop

December 19, 1991|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Evening Sun Staff

The latest game of conference musical chairs will have a considerable impact on Loyola College.

The Greyhounds are members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which today lost its most visible member, La Salle, to the Midwestern Collegiate Conference according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Pittsburgh Press, meanwhile, reported that Duquesne would also be joining the MCC, ending its association with the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan attended expansion meetings this summer with officials from the MCC, whose current members include Xavier, Dayton, Evansville, Loyola of Chicago and Butler. Notre Dame, an independent in men's basketball, is a member in other men's and women's sports.

Boylan broke off talks with the MCC last month, saying that the Greyhounds were committed to the Metro Atlantic for the time being. Today, however, he did not rule out a subsequent conference shift by Loyola.

"We recently decided not to pursue the Midwestern Collegiate Conference simply because it wasn't the right time to change," Boylan said. "Economics had a lot to do with that decision. Plus, Father Sellinger [the Loyola president] has strong feelings toward the MAAC.

"While staying in the MAAC, we will continue to reassess our situation . . . The Midwestern Collegiate has the opportunity to be a very good league. It has the potential to add more schools in the East."

Loyola left the Northeast Conference in 1989 to join the MAAC, where the other institutions also have a Jesuit background. La Salle carries the highest-profile of the nine current members, as the Explorers won the Commissioner's Cup, symbolic of overall excellence, for the seventh time in eight years in 1990-91.

La Salle won four MAAC titles last year, and has the only soccer program that came remotely close to beating Loyola, which has never lost a game to a MAAC opponent in that sport.

More important to the shift in conference affiliation, the Explorers have the MAAC's most visible basketball program, one which followed Lionel Simmons to three straight titles and NCAA tTC appearances from 1988-90.

With La Salle showing the way, the MAAC's power rating among the nation's 34 Division I basketball conferences rose to No.

16 last year.

"La Salle leaving hurts the MAAC, there's no question about it," Boylan said. "We still feel we have a good league, and that it will go on being a good one.

La Salle, located in north Philadelphia, is Loyola's closest geographic rival in the MAAC.

Next closest to Baltimore is defending men's basketball champion St. Peter's, which is located in Jersey City, N.J. Five of the other six members are located in New York.

La Salle had the MAAC's largest commitment to a broad-based athletic program.

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