UMBC eyes bigger market, enters Northeast Conference Move from Big South effective in 1998

June 20, 1996|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,SUN STAFF

UMBC made its departure from the Big South Conference official yesterday by accepting an invitation to the Northeast Conference, beginning in September 1998.

The Northeast Conference last expanded when Rider accepted an invitation in 1991 and began participation the following year. It offers championships in 16 sports, all of which are sponsored by UMBC.

Two years ago, UMBC submitted a letter of resignation to the Big South, but rescinded it last summer.

"This really is quite a relief to us," athletic director Charles Brown said at a news conference on the school's campus. "When we went into the Big South [in 1992], there were no other options. The Big South has been good to us, but it was time to look for a better geographic fit."

Brown, a graduate of Long Island University, which also is a member of the Northeast Conference, said the university wanted its athletic programs to get into a bigger market. "And there's nothing better than New Jersey and New York, plus Pittsburgh and Baltimore," he said.

The conference will undergo a couple of changes before adding UMBC. Both Marist and Rider will leave for the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference after the 1996-97 academic year.

UMBC coach Tom Sullivan said his school had a good relationship with the Big South, "but this aligns us in a region where we tend to do a lot of recruiting and gives us better exposure."

UMBC also released its 1996-97 basketball schedule yesterday. The Retrievers will play their first two games at home, on Nov. 23 against Loyola and on Nov. 26 against Towson State. They play at Maryland on Dec. 4.

Pub Date: 6/20/96

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