UMaine rival Boston University to leave America East for Patriot League

Posted June 15, 2012, at 1:20 p.m.
Last modified June 15, 2012, at 5:12 p.m.

Boston University has formally accepted an invitation to join the Patriot League on July 1, 2013, for the 2013-14 academic year, Daniel H. Weiss, chairman of the Patriot League’s council of presidents and president of Lafayette College announced Friday.

“Boston University is an outstanding addition to our membership as a private institution with a robust academic reputation and prolific athletic history,” said Weiss. “This decision to add Boston University to the Patriot League mirrors the presidents’ commitment and vision to the stability and long-term positioning of the League.”

Boston University will join American University, Bucknell University, Colgate University, the College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy as full members in the Patriot League. In addition, Fordham University and Georgetown University are associate members for the sport of football, while Massachusetts Institute of Technology competes in the Patriot League as an associate member in women’s rowing.

“We believe that the philosophy of the league is a good match for Boston University and that the schools in the league will give our athletes a rich competitive environment,” said Boston University President Robert A. Brown.”

The loss of Boston University leaves America East with eight members, including the universities of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Hartford, Binghamton University, the University at Albany, Stony Brook University and the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

“Boston University president Robert Brown informed me by phone Thursday afternoon of BU’s decision to join the Patriot League,” America East Commissioner Amy Huchthausen said in a prepared statement. “As with many conferences, we have been actively engaged in conversations regarding membership for some time. We will continue those discussions with our presidents, but, consistent with our philosophy, will do so in a confidential manner and will not discuss specific institutions.”

Barring the addition of new schools in the meantime, BU’s departure means UMaine teams will have only one league opponent (UNH) located less than a five-hour drive from Orono starting with the 2013-14 season. And the Wildcats do not sponsor baseball, which makes the five-plus-hour trip to Hartford the Black Bears’ nearest conference competitor.

BU will join the Patriot League in the men and women’s basketball, men and women’s cross-country and track and field, field hockey, women’s golf, men and women’s lacrosse, women’s rowing, men and women’s soccer, softball, men and women’s swimming and diving and men and women’s tennis.

Like UMaine, the Terriers play ice hockey in Hockey East. BU does not field a football team.

“This is a really unique opportunity for us to challenge ourselves,” said Mike Lynch, Boston University assistant vice president and director of athletics. “We will be entering a league that embodies the ideal of valuing academics as the highest priority while sponsoring very competitive athletic programs.”

The Patriot League was formed as an all-sport conference in 1990 after beginning as a football-only league (Colonial League) in 1986. Army, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette and Lehigh are founding members.

Navy joined the Patriot League for the 1991-92 academic year and American was the last full member to join the Patriot League (2001-02).

Boston University has enjoyed a remarkable recent history in numerous sports, including winning the Commissioner’s Cup (for overall athletic excellence) in America East for each of the past seven years. During that time, the Terriers have won 40 conference championships in 14 sports.

“Boston University has a strong tradition of excellence in academics and Division I athletics, both of which reflect the core values of the Patriot League,” Patriot League Executive Director Carolyn Schlie Femovich said.

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