Boston University will join the Patriot League after formally accepting an invitation to migrate from the America East Conference. The move will affect most sports, but not men’s hockey, which will remain in Hockey East.
The move, which will take effect July 1, 2013, was announced Friday.
Athletics Director Mike Lynch told the Globe that the move for BU, a founding member of the America East Conference, was motivated by an attraction to the stability offered by the Patriot League, as well as the association with other private institutions with high academic standards.
“For a long time, we’ve presented ourselves as being excellent in academic and athletics in our community,” Lynch said. “We can’t go a heck of a whole lot higher in academics in our conference.
“The Patriot League presents an opportunity to go someplace that’s extremely stable with brand-name institutions.”
Though BU has no football team and the Patriot League has placed a heavy emphasis on the sport in the past, the Terriers’ addition of a men’s lacrosse team in the 2013-14 school year will mesh well with the Patriot League’s commitment to the sport.
“We know football is a big piece of their history, but we know that lacrosse is a big piece of their future,” Lynch said. “That’s more of what we were attracted to.”
Lynch said that BU had investigated other opportunities to switch conferences, and that conversations with the Patriot League have been “on and off for the past four or five years.”
BU will join American, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Army and Navy as full members of the Patriot League, and will participate in the following sports: men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country and track and field, field hockey, women’s golf, men’s and women’s lacrosse, women’s rowing, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s swimming and diving and men’s and women’s tennis.
“I am delighted to welcome Boston University to the Patriot League,” Patriot League Executive Director Carolyn Femovich said in a statement. “Boston University has a strong tradition of excellence in academics and Division I athletics, both of which reflect the core values of the Patriot League. They will strengthen the League both in the classroom and on the field of play.”
Through a statement made on its website, America East commissioner Amy Huchthausen declined further comment on the move, saying that Boston University President Robert Brown informed her of the decision by phone on Thursday.
“The conference wishes BU well in its future,” Huchthausen said. “As with many conferences, we have been actively engaged in conversations regarding membership for some time. We will continue those discussions with our presidents, but, consistent with our philosophy, will do so in a confidential manner and will not discuss specific institutions.”