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Femovich, Patriot League looking for another Boston University
Future expansion likely, but only if right partner is found
It has been one teleconference, meeting and press conference after another for Patriot League president Carolyn Schlie Femovich the last couple of years.
It is beginning to feel like her office is a fold-up tray table on a United or Delta plane instead of an air-conditioned building in Center Valley.
But Femovich, league presidents and athletic directors have a lot to show for their time away from campuses and family.
The Patriot League’s latest pronouncement was adding another full-time member (Boston University) in 18 sports, most notably men’s and women’s basketball, beginning with the 2013-14 season.
Previously, the league added women’s golf as its 24th championship sport, approved athletic scholarships for football, reinstated associate member Fordham into the conference for football, adjusted roster sizes for football and implemented a basketball replay system.
It has been a whirlwind of activity with all of these announcements coming since February.
Femovich said more could be coming, but the league doesn’t have a proverbial plane to catch.
“Don’t expect another announcement next week,” Femovich said Monday before catching another flight out of the Lehigh Valley. “We’re going to take our time with this.”
What this is is further league expansion.
Boston University makes nine teams in men’s and women’s basketball. That makes for scheduling hurdles until a 10th team is found.
Though no specifics have been worked out, a nine-team league means a bye for one team on each league playing date during the regular season.
Femovich said the goal is to find another school for one of the league’s marquee sports, but it will take time. It already has been a lengthy process in bringing in the Terriers, who are leaving the America East Conference.
“We had in-depth conversations four or five years ago,” she said. “But they were two-fold. We had to make a decision on the football merit-aid issue. We were not ready [for expansion]. The timing wasn’t right.”
The league spent the last 21/2 years focused on working out the details of athletic scholarships for football before revisiting expansion.
Boston University appears to be a solid fit.
It has a solid academic profile, evidenced by the most-recent NCAA Division I Academic Progress Rate in which seven Terriers programs had perfect scores and 11 earned special recognition.
The location gives league member Holy Cross a natural partner for scheduling, much like Lehigh and Lafayette in the Lehigh Valley. Now other basketball teams will be making the lengthy trip northeast for two games instead of just one.
And from a competition standpoint, Boston University has impressive men’s and women’s basketball programs.
The men, coached by former Columbia head coach Joe Jones (his brother James is the head coach at Yale), are coming off a 12-4 conference mark in Joe’s first season.
The Terriers have only one senior on their 2012-13 roster, which has three Philadelphia-area products, and have a highly rated recruiting class that includes Maurice Watson — a Philadelphia Boys Latin High scoring machine.
The women are coming off a 23-9 season, including 15-1 in America East play, and a trip to the WNIT for the third time in the last four years. Head coach Kelly Greenberg, whose jersey at Archbishop Wood High School has been retired, has won 60 percent of her games in her eight seasons with the Terriers.
Overall, the Terriers have won the last seven America East Commissioners Cup titles (equivalent to the Patriot League’s Presidents Cup).
Now if the Patriot League can find one more school with similar academic and athletic profiles to that of Boston University, perhaps Femovich can find some time to relax.
“The ultimate goal is to get to 10 teams,” she said. “But only if we can find the right partner.”