Allen Lessels UNH Notebook: UConn to Hockey East is latest in league shuffling
BOSTON UNIVERSITY'S out. The University of Connecticut is in.
Those are the most recent moves that will directly affect the University of New Hampshire's athletics teams as collegiate conference reshuffling continues early in the summer of 2012.
Two weeks ago, Boston University announced it was leaving America East for the Patriot League in all the sports it plays that are offered by the conference.
Last week, Hockey East officially extended an invitation to Connecticut to play hockey in its league and the Huskies quickly accepted.
Fallout from those changes, and other affiliation adjustments, are expected.
“Sometimes you leave a league meeting and you have more questions than answers,” said UNH Director of Athletics Marty Scarano. “You've got to keep contemplating what you're doing. I don't think college athletics have ever gone through this kind of metamorphoses.”
Scarano has also dealt with football this month where the Colonial Athletic Association, arguably the best Football Championship Subdivision league in the nation, wrestles with how to proceed after losing several teams.
Football has long been a priority for Scarano.
“How are we going to find a way to sustain what we do for the next 20 years?” Scarano said. “We want to be significant.”
The loss of Boston University strips America East of one of its consistently best all-around programs and a power in several sports, including men's basketball and women's soccer.
The Terriers and UNH have competed as conference rivals since BU joined the Yankee Conference for the 1972-73 season and played each other long before that. BU is joining the Patriot League effective next summer.
UConn, which has played in the Atlantic Hockey Association, begins play in Hockey East for the 2014-15 season. Notre Dame joins Hockey East for 2013-14.
As the remaining schools in America East consider whom, if anyone, to invite to join them, they need to maintain both quantity and quality to make sure the conference stays at a level that guarantees league champions gain an automatic qualifier into the NCAA tournament, Scarano said.
And while he talks of UNH's commitment to America East and the CAA, Scarano notes that the conference shuffling has led to an “every school for itself” mentality that he and others find quite unsettling and leaves them unsure if a specific school will suddenly leave for another conference.
“I guess you have to look at it this way,” Scarano said. “No one knows what anyone is doing any longer. While we're all collegial, I don't think anyone can trust anyone. I hate to put it in crass terms, but everyone has to look out for themselves and do what's best for their institution ... I don't know that anybody feels good about that. We all want to have integrity, but it's hard to have that if it's going to put your institution in jeopardy.”
In the meantime, chances are the next shoe, or shoes, will drop sooner rather than later.
Will Quinnipiac and/or Bryant sign on with America East? Will a school like Merrimack decide the time is now to step up from Division II and play Division I in America East? Will Stony Brook, which plays in America East in most sports, move its football team to the CAA?
MEN'S basketball coach Bill Herrion filled out his roster for next season with the addition of Matt Miller, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard who is transferring in from Division II Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pa.
Miller will sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules and then will have two years of eligibility.
“He can really, really shoot it,” Herrion said.
Miller scored more than 1,000 points in his two years at Seton Hill. He averaged 16.3 games as a freshman and was the Rookie of the Year in the Western Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Last season, he averaged 20 points and 4.4 rebounds a game.
He made 43 percent of his three-point shots his first season and 45 percent as a sophomore, making 158 of 360 of his treys over the two years.
UNH looked at Miller coming out of high school, but he was coming off an injury and Herrion did not offer him a scholarship.
“He's bigger and stronger now and his body has filled out,” Herrion said. “He's a Division I player. He's good.”
Herrion's current players are back on campus and starting a session of summer school today. They will lift weights and train and new NCAA rules allow Herrion and his staff to work with them in basketball sessions two hours a week.
Senior Ferg Myrick, who had some issues with his knee after the season ended, has been rehabbing and is coming along well, Herrion said.
“One thing that been a positive while he's had to kind of lay off it on his knee, is he's been able to work on his upper body strength,” Herrion said. “Ferg's a kid that has had some bad luck with injuries and has missed some time. Now we've got to get him focused on getting totally healthy and having a great senior year.”
Allen Lessels covers UNH athletics for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.