It’s hard to forget that just one of the 351 Division I men’s basketball schools this past season had no conference affiliation.
It doesn’t appear that school, NJIT – which went 13-16 under Jim Engles last season, will find a new home in the America East Conference.
“Very rare that there is only one independent institution out there, we’re very aware of their interest in finding a conference home, I certainly understand that for a lot of reasons,” America East commissioner Amy Huchthausen said when asked about the only Division I team without a conference affiliation.
Since the conference added UMass Lowell for the 2013-14 season, Huchthausen said that the presidents and athletic directors in the conference feel good about the current membership.
The America East conference stands at nine members after adding UMass Lowell for this academic year. It was the first time the conference added a new school since UMBC joined the league in 2003.
While Huchthausen said the league does not rule out adding a school in the future, the landscape for conference realignment appears to have quieted.
“That’s not to say that in the future there might not be other institutions that would fit that profile, but given the landscape right now that seems to have quieted and our efforts to really help and support UMass Lowell make the transition to Division I and the kinship our institutions have with each other right now I think we’re in a good spot,” Huchthausen said. “But certainly can never say never to any situation, given the history of just the last two years, but generally speaking our membership feels very solid with the nine members that we have today.”
Boston University officially left the conference on July 1, 2013 for the Patriot League. The conference has not seen an exodus of multiple schools since Delaware, Drexel, Hofstra and Towson left the league for the Colonial Athletic Association in 2001 and were replaced by Albany, Binghamton and Stony Brook.
Huchthausen said that in her conversations with the nine presidents and athletic directors, she feels that the current group of nine are committed to moving the conference forward.
“I feel like everyone really is committed to the direction that we’re moving and wants to be part of it,” Huchthuasen said. “I think there’s a number of opportunities still on our list that we want to accomplish and I think our nine members understand those, are supportive of them really and energized by the direction they’ll take this conference
NJIT played seven games against America East opponents over the past season, going 4-3 against the conference with two wins over Maine and victories against New Hampshire and UMass Lowell. The Newark, New Jersey based school joined the conference as an associate member for women’s tennis starting this season.
Ryan Restivo covers the America East conference, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Hofstra for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo or contact Ryan at rrestivo[at]nycbuckets.com.