With the Division I-A schools dominating the world of college football, the Atlantic 10 Football Conference wants to further its reputation as a respected, visible Division I-AA conference.
Toward that end, league athletic directors have decided to have the Atlantic 10 membership remain at 11 teams indefinitely.
There had been speculation the Atlantic 10 would add a new member after Boston University abruptly disbanded its football program last fall. However, the ADs voted at their recent annual meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., to take a different approach.
“Expansion isn’t necessarily the best way to get something done,” said University of Maine athletic director Sue Tyler. “We were really looking at what’s best for the conference and what’s best for AA football.
“What we’re trying to do is build name recognition and reputation for the conference and see if that builds more of a fan base,” she said.
The move began last summer when the 50-year-old Yankee Conference, the former home to the league’s 12 teams, was absorbed into the Atlantic 10. The hope was to affiliate Connecticut, Delaware, James Madison, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Rhode Island, Richmond, Villanova and William & Mary with a marketable conference.
Directors also want to stress the league’s regional East Coast presence, rather than having it viewed as a split North/South conference.
Rather than add a team, the Atlantic 10 wants to bring the 11 existing members closer together. Thus, the ADs voted to implement a full round-robin schedule beginning with the 2001 football season.
Under that format, the two-division alignment will be eliminated and the 11 league teams will play each of the other Atlantic 10 schools once.
“We think one of the ways to keep AA football alive is to play each other, to increase our identity and develop loyalty as a conference,” Tyler said.
Tyler said the Atlantic 10 also has expanded its regional television schedule to six games, including Maine at UConn on Sept. 19.
Gabe Memmert and Nicole Gamblin of the University of Maine have received GTE Academic All-America District I honors in their respective sports.
To be eligible for the GTE awards, which are selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America, student-athletes must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or higher.
Memmert, a senior first baseman from Kaneohe, Hawaii, batted .371 with eight home runs and 48 RBIs. Gamblin, a sophomore designated player from Presque Isle, hit .243 with two homers and 23 RBIs.
Earlier this year, basketball player Cindy Blodgett was named a first-team national Academic All-American, while soccer player Ted Sherry was a national second-team choice. Hockey player Steve Kariya was a district pick.
Josh King of Tufts University is preparing to make second straight trip to the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
King, a fifth-year senior from Hampden, won the discus at last weekend’s New England Championships at Dedham, Mass., with a throw of 170 feet, 11 inches. It was the third-best throw in Division III this year.
King, who finished eighth in last year’s outdoor championship, also will compete in the hammer throw in the Division III meet slated Saturday through Monday at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.
Each of the last two years, King qualified for the Division III indoor nationals in the weight throw, finishing seventh in 1998 and eighth in ’97.
Orono native Sean Casey, the athletic director at Dickinson State University in North Dakota, will spend part of October conducting an International Basketball Coaches Clinic on the island of Dominica, West Indes.
Casey is the former men’s basketball coach and AD at the University of Maine-Machias. The clinic is part of the Olympic Solidarity Program sponsored by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA).
Casey will conduct the clinic for the national coaches of countries in the West Indes.