MAAC to Discuss Expansion Prospects Friday in New York City

The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference will discuss future membership on Friday when the Council of Presidents meets in New York City.

Do not expect an instant result from these meetings.

Despite the recent rumors this week that schools such as Quinnipiac and Monmouth are prepared to join the conference. Or potentially Wagner and Bryant could be potential new members, MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor said that the idea of adding a team right now is premature.

“It’s just premature,” Ensor said of the recent rumors. “We have options for a number of different schools which the board has on their agenda and coming out of that meeting we might invite schools or we might not.”

“There’s no guarantee that we’re going to take any action Friday.”

Ensor said a subcommittee has been looking into expansion made up of himself, two Presidents and an athletic director. That committee’s findings are to be presented on Friday when the Council of Presidents is presented with a report on potential members.

When asked, Ensor said that he could not specifically comment on whether he has personally met with prospective member schools but said “that would be standard operating procedure” based on his past history in the conference’s expansion.

When the MAAC added schools in 1988, Ensor said he recalled going with a president and visiting six schools, taking four of them. He said in 1997, when the MAAC added Marist and Rider, he presented the schools to the Council of Presidents and from there visits were scheduled.

“It takes different forms in different situations and right now we just happen to have the special subcommittee that’s looking at it,” Ensor said.

When asked, Ensor said that he would not go as far to say he’s confident that the MAAC will add members next year. At the same time, Ensor said his office has advised all coaches at member schools not to add non-conference games to their schedule to fill potential open dates.

“Up to this point we’ve told schools don’t schedule,” Ensor said. “Once you start doing that it becomes more of a problem to then add a member you have to rearrange schedules.”

“So do I think there’s an opportunity here where we could expand if the presidents choose to and not have to rearrange a lot of schedules. But is it probable? I’m not sure I would go that strong.”

Currently the MAAC will have a nine team league during the 2013-14 season with or without any prospective new member school which would likely lead to a reduction in conference games from 18 to 16.

No matter how many schools potentially enter the MAAC in the future, Ensor said he is confident that scheduling for a league with 9 to 12 teams would not be an issue.

“There’s no combination of numbers that pose an insurmountable problem when it comes to scheduling,” Ensor said.

This will be the first meeting of the presidents since a conference call in September following Loyola’s announced exit of the league.

“We’ve been working it and we’ll see but until the board gets together and looks at each other and says this is what they want to do,” Ensor said.

“It’s hard to say. We could be at nine, we could go to 10, we could go to 11, we could go to 12. I would be overstating it to say it’s a done deal in any means.”

This is the only meeting scheduled for the presidents between now and their next scheduled meeting after Memorial Day.

When talking about prospective member schools, Ensor said that over the last 18 months they explored the possibility of being in what he called a “non-traditional” market but that those efforts were fruitless. There were rumors about Florida or North Carolina schools from sources earlier this year. The MAAC draws associate members from eight other conferences to support the MAAC with sports such as men’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s rowing, women’s golf and water polo.

Ensor said that he believes that realignment has not finished running its course nationally and despite the results of Friday’s meeting, it will continue to loom over his league and other conferences around the country.

“As long as [realignment] is still taking place on a national level all the conferences could be impacted and if you can be impacted then you need to consider expansion or contraction so I don’t think there are any givens in this business right now when it comes to membership alignment,” Ensor said.

“Everybody is interrelated even when it comes to alignment and until it’s settled across the board it can impact anybody at any time.”

Ensor said he is unsure that there will be a clear resolution to the MAAC and whether or not they will accept new members on Friday

“I’ve been in enough presidents meetings to know that they can go a lot of different directions,” Ensor said describing the process as ongoing.

“There’s nothing to say we could not do a two-step process or three-step for that matter. I know people want answers and I can appreciate that but it’s not that clean and simple.”

Ensor said that he does not expect to make an announcement after the meeting on Friday, but he expects that there could be  an announcement the week after.

Ryan Restivo covers the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference for Big Apple Buckets. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @ryanarestivo

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