Towson settling in for long haul in CAA

Tigers hopeful their days of league-hopping over

November 01, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

After a decade of membership in four different athletic conferences, Towson University is anticipating permanent residence in the Colonial Athletic Association.

"It is very unlikely anyone is going to leave this league in the next 10 years," said Tigers athletic director Wayne Edwards yesterday at the new CAA's basketball media day at the ESPNZone. "We know this is long term."

The advantages are many. Instead of being the southernmost or northernmost school in a league - as was the case with the East Coast Conference, Big South and, most recently, America East - Towson is situated right in the middle.

"We don't have to be concerned about airplane travel or kids missing classes traveling back from games," said Edwards. "And there is name recognition of so many of these institutions in Baltimore - James Madison, George Mason, Old Dominion. It's certainly good from a public perception standpoint.

"Plus, we don't lose our communication with the Long Island, New Jersey, Delaware and Philadelphia areas, with Hofstra, Delaware and Drexel coming in with us."

In addition, there will be considerably more television exposure, with 37 CAA games scheduled to be shown on various outlets. That stimulates recruiting efforts.

The Baltimore area hasn't been represented in the CAA since Navy left the league in 1991.

Towson and the other new members have competed only in cross country so far, because the moves occurred too late to finalize fall schedules.

With no football in the CAA (Towson will still compete in the Patriot League in that sport), the Tigers will plunge into the league starting next month with basketball, the showcase sport.

That will mean an upgrade in competition for Towson, which was respectable, but by no means dominant, in the America East.

"We've got our work cut out for us," said new basketball coach Michael Hunt, who assumes his first top job in returning to Towson, where he was an assistant under Terry Truax in 1988-1992.

"I've been involved in rebuilds before and this is definitely a challenge. We're going to try to attract local talent and, hopefully, the little things we're doing will attract fans to the Towson Center."

Hunt was part of a coaching staff that brought such local standouts as Kurk Lee, Devin Boyd, Chuck Lightening, Kennell Jones, Scooter Alexander and Terrance Jacobs to Towson, which made two NCAA appearances and was an East Coast Conference power during that era.

"I told our AD [Wayne Edwards] that I don't have to go to Maine and fight the weather, too," said Hunt. "Everything is close. That should help."

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