CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- The America East Conference held its annual league meetings last week in Maryland. The conference’s Athletic Directors Council, Senior Woman Administrators and Faculty Athletic Representatives met in Annapolis on June 13, while the Administration Group convened on June 14. The Board of Presidents met on June 15 in Baltimore to wrap up the week.
The Board of Presidents discussed realignment and its recent impact on America East. The presidents have broad knowledge of the landscape and are committed to doing what’s in the best interest of the conference. The eight remaining institutions reiterated their commitment to the America East and its broad-based, competitive athletic programs, which complement the academic integrity and mission of each member institution. Ways to effectively promote, brand and establish an identity that reflects the strong academic and athletic profile of the league’s schools, such as academic collaborations among member institutions, were also discussed as the presidents strive to enhance the brand and identity of the league.
In regards to possible expansion, the Board of Presidents emphasized the importance of taking a thoughtful and strategic approach to the consideration of future members. America East’s current profile of primarily major research institutions located in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions are important for a conference that strives to provide the best experience for its student-athletes, both academically and athletically. Any future decisions will be based not with short-term solutions in mind, but with a focus on the long-term strategy and approach to preserving the strong reputation that the conference has established in its 33 years.
“While rumors and speculation regarding conference membership continue to swirl, these conversations have been and will continue to remain confidential among our conference leadership. Our presidents are engaged on these matters and understand the fluid dynamic that exists in today’s landscape. They are focused on the future of this league and are committed to dialogue and activity that will advance the conference forward,” said America East Commissioner Amy Huchthausen. “While some may wish to see membership issues debated in a public forum, that is simply not how it is done. Speculation will continue, no doubt, about us, our schools, other conferences and other schools, but we will have no comment regarding any specific institution or scenario presented. If and when we have news to report, we will certainly do so.”
The Administration Group, consisting of athletic directors and high-ranking administrators, heard concluding reports from several evaluation committees, which were formed to review overall policies and procedures of the conference, as well as in select sports. The group also reviewed the consent package recommended by the conference’s Championships and Competition Committee. Key action items included:
• Approval of a single-site, predetermined championship format in men’s lacrosse starting in 2013
• Elimination of the conference’s overnight travel policy
• Elimination of the conference’s regular-season travel squad limits
• Elimination of the women’s basketball scheduling standards
• Stipulation added that the conference marketing grant be used to enhance or promote television broadcasts or opportunities
• Approval of a 10-week, 30-game regular-season schedule in baseball
All sport committees, which included men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s soccer, were comprised of conference administrators and coaches. Common themes included the desire to increase non-conference winning percentage and to maximize exposure opportunities. “The work of the evaluation committees over the past few months generated positive dialogue among our membership as they reviewed key areas of focus,” said Lee McElroy, chair of the Athletic Directors Council. “We commend the good work of these committees in identifying themes and recommendations to help move the conference forward.”
The Administration Group also heard presentations from ESPN’s Brent Colborne, Senior Manager of Programming and Acquisitions, and NeuLion’s Ed O’Brien, Vice President, and Ryan Pederson, Partner Relations Manager. The presentations centered around the conference’s increasingly aggressive multimedia and television initiatives, which include a commitment to improve the quantity and quality of its broadcast opportunities, both at the conference and institutional level. The group also received NCAA governance and reform updates from Jackie Campbell, Director of Division I at the NCAA.
Other business included the review of conference officiating fee structure and the appointment of Steve Abbott, University of Maine Director of Athletics, as the next chair of the Athletic Directors Council, and Dr. Samuel Stanley, Stony Brook University President as the next Board of Presidents Chair. “I want to thank Lee McElroy, Director of Athletics at the University at Albany, and Mark Huddleston, President at the University of New Hampshire, for their great leadership over the past year,” said Commissioner Huchthausen. “Their support and leadership as the conference transitioned to a new commissioner was instrumental in helping us make immediate progress in some key areas. I look forward to working with Steve and President Stanley in the coming year as we continue to move forward.”
The Athletic Directors, SWA’s and FAR’s also met as groups to discuss pertinent business on Wednesday. That evening, the conference held its annual awards dinner in Annapolis. Boston University received the Commissioner’s Cup trophy, while the University Hartford was presented the Academic Cup. Stony Brook University’s Lucy Van Dalen was honored as America East Woman of the Year, Hartford’s Kevin Brandon and Boston U.’s Women’s Soccer team garnered America East Male and Female Sportsmanship Awards, respectively and University of Vermont’s Elyse Ogletree received the America East/CFES Service Award.