The latest change on the ever-changing map of college athletics came yesterday when the eight-member Centennial Football Conference, which includes Johns Hopkins, became an all-sports league and added three members.
The new alliance, the Centennial Conference, will comprise holdovers Johns Hopkins, Dickinson, Franklin and Marshall, Gettysburg, Muhlenberg, Swarthmore, Ursinus and Western Maryland and newcomers Washington, Haverford and Bryn Mawr.
The new Centennial Conference, made up of Division III schools, won't have the national impact of the Atlantic Coast, Big East or Southeastern conferences, it will, as the college presidents who will guide the league say, focus on the "student" in the phrase "student-athlete."
"Academics are at the center of this conference, but the athletics are important," said Dr. Gordon A. Haaland, Gettysburg's president and acting chairman of the conference's presidents committee.
Robert Scott, Hopkins' athletic director, said the conference was formed to bring like-minded schools in the area together in a configuration that was more manageable than the 26-member size of the Middle Atlantic State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MAC), where the eight Centennial football members had been previously.
"We feel good about the change. This is just a little streamlining, but it will be no big change for these schools," Scott said.
The new conference, which will begin league play in 11 sports with the 1993-94 academic year, will generally allow for members to pursue other rivalries outside the league, while playing a single round-robin format.
But Scott said Hopkins will not abandon its commitments to the University Athletic Association. The move also will not affect the school's lacrosse affiliation, which is in Division I.
The eight original league members had split from the MAC for football in 1981, and presidents from those schools formed a committee last year to study the feasibility of an all-sports league.
Late last month, the committee recommended the league's formation, with an additional recommendation that Washington, Haverford and nearby Bryn Mawr, an all-female school, also be invited to join the conference.