Boston University accepted an invitation to join the Patriot League Friday morning, becoming effective July 1, 2013 for the 2013-14 academic year, officials said.
“Doctor Brown and I conferred on this for a long time,” said BU Athletic Director Mike Lynch. “The one thing that jumped out at us was the academic quality in the Patriot League was going to be a step toward the Ivy League, which is certainly something that played into our thinking as well as the stability of the Patriot League.”
The change will move 18 teams from the America East Conference into the Patriot League. While the teams from the America East will transfer over to the Patriot League, the men’s and women’s hockey teams will remain in Hockey East, men’s rowing will remain in the Eastern Association of Rowing colleges and wrestling will remain in the Colonial Athletic Association.
Lynch said BU has been considering a move away from the America East on and off for the past three or four years. Conversations with the Patriot League became more intense within the past couple of months.
With their move to the Patriot League, the Terriers will compete in a conference that includes American University, Bucknell University, Colgate University, The College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, The U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy.
The Patriot League also includes associate members Fordham University and Georgetown University for football and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in women’s rowing.
The change does alter the typical travel that BU teams are accustomed to making for athletic events. Most of the teams within America East are located in the Northeast.
“This’ll be a different kind of a travel situation,” Lynch said. “There are a number of schools in the America East we can bus to relatively quickly. We’ll have to do a combination of bussing and flights and things like that to some of the Patriot League institutions. But they’re used to doing that as well.”
With the transition, BU Athletics will need to adhere to the recruiting rules of the Patriot League, which are different from those of the America East. One such rule is the Patriot League’s academic index.
“The academic index is a core principle of the Patriot League that is designed to admit student-athletes that are academically representative of the institution,” the Patriot League’s website states.
Lynch said BU already works with an academic index when recruiting.
“That’s something we’ve consistently been doing anyways, but this league has it as part of their bylaws,” he said. “That’s something we have to adjust to, so we can figure out how that works and what kind of impact that’ll have.”
While the Patriot League features an increase in the academic view of BU’s athletic program, it will also create a change of pace of a program that has won the America East Commissioners Cup for the past seven years.
“A number of the schools in the Patriot League have proven themselves to be very formidable,” Lynch said. “Most recently their basketball team [Lehigh] beat Duke in the NCAA tournament. Their lacrosse teams are some of the best in the country.”
Ultimately, the move gives the university an opportunity to combine its academic and athletic desires.
“Putting that kind of an athletic program together with the academic profile they bring is something we felt really comfortable in. We expect ourselves to have an excellence in athletics and academics, and I can’t imagine a better fit for us.”
Note: In an interview with The Daily Free Press on Friday, Lynch stated that he is hoping to announce the head coach of the men’s lacrosse team in the next few weeks.