ECAC In Final Stages on Possible Expansion

ECAC athletic directors and administrators will meet via conference call Tuesday, July 6 to discuss the final decisions on how many schools, if any, will be admitted to the league. If all goes well, an announcement could be made by the end of that week.

“We’ve had some very good discussions following our site visits,” said ECAC commissioner Steve Hagwell. “Different people went to different sites, so we need to get that information together for 11 schools and make sure we’re comparing apples to apples.

“Trying to put that information together, and to be fair to the schools involved, it’s an undertaking. We’re going through it methodically. We don’t want to rush, but we don’t want to prolong it either.”

After Vermont announced its intention to leave the ECAC for Hockey East starting in 2005-06, the ECAC opened up a bidding process for schools interested in joining the conference. Five schools applied for membership — Quinnipiac, Holy Cross, Mercyhurst, Niagara and Sacred Heart. League officials and athletic directors from the existing schools went on site visits over the course of the past few weeks.

Sources have indicated growing support for Holy Cross and Quinnipiac. Building issues may be the biggest remaining concern with those two schools. Holy Cross is in negotiation to play games in the spacious Worcester Centrum, while Quinnipiac has plans to construct a new campus center and rink, pending funding. According to sources, Quinnipiac has agreed to play ECAC games on the road until its facility is complete.

Hagwell was also among five Division I conference commissioners to meet in New York City with College Sports Television this week. It followed up what Hagwell said was a productive meeting with CSTV officials at the Coaches Convention in Naples, Fla., in April.

“We talked about ways, going into the season, of helping each other,” Hagwell said. “We recapped a little bit, met some new people, and talked about different approaches to [broadcasting] the game to make it more attractive.

“They’ve been very receptive to things I’ve thrown at them, such as different scheduling ideas. They can’t accomodate everything I want, but they’ve been great to work with.”

Hagwell expects a deal with CSTV for airing ECAC games next season to be finalized shortly.

The commissioners also spent some time with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, something they also did last year.

“We talked about things that are of common interest — equipment issues, referee issues — to make sure we’re on the same page,” Hagwell said.