Lebanon Valley will leave the ECAC Northeast, where it has competed for the last five seasons, and switch to the ECAC West as of the 2004-05 season. For this year, LVC will continue to compete in the ECAC Northeast.
Lebanon Valley athletic director Kathleen Tierney announced the decision after the ECAC Northeast concluded a 10-month process of reviewing its membership. According to sources, the athletic directors of the other Northeast teams decided that Lebanon Valley was no longer a good fit for their league, forcing the Flying Dutchmen to find a new home.
Geography has played against Lebanon Valley since its inception. Located in central Pennsylvania, the Flying Dutchmen are well west of the other ECAC Northeast teams, which are located mainly in eastern New England. This caused the other teams to spend a significant amount of their total travel budget each year to play at Lebanon Valley. Without the Flying Dutchmen in the league, the other teams can now divert those financial resources to other areas.
The review process by the ECAC Northeast started midway through 2002, when the league voted to change its bylaws to allow for members to vote teams out of the league. From that time forward, the writing was on the wall for Lebanon Valley.
Sources have indicated that the Massachusetts state schools were willing to leave the ECAC Northeast if LVC was allowed to stay, though that still could happen.
“The good news to come out of this is that this move will help us recruiting wise,” said Lebanon Valley coach Al MacCormack. “The ECAC West is a more competitive league, and the teams that are there are all great recruiting teams. This should open us up to look at Canadian kids.”
This action does open up several other questions. First and foremost, what effect will this have on the NCAA Playoff Pool Selection? With the addition of Lebanon Valley, the ECAC West will contain seven teams and now qualify for a Pool A Autobid and a Pool C At-Large bid. This will leave only the MCHA teams and Scranton in Pool B, where the ECAC West is currently slotted. Will the NCAA maintain the current Pool system? Will they move one of the Pool C bids to Pool A to make room for the ECAC West?
Another area that will require adjustment is scheduling. Last season, the ECAC West initiated a loose travel-partner scheduling system. Some teams adhered to it more closely than others, but it did provide for leveling the schedules a bit. With the addition of a seventh team, how will this scheme be adjusted?
Both the ECAC West and the NCAA have a year to make adjustments to the various areas.