At a time when the America East Conference should be celebrating Stony Brook's unlikely appearance in the College World Series, the league instead is reeling from the impending departure of one of its flagship schools.
Boston University announced Friday it will leave the America East for the Patriot League in July 2013, a surprising choice by the Terriers since on the surface it appears to be a lateral move. The Colonial Athletic Association reportedly considered Boston University as a potential replacement for VCU, Old Dominion and Georgia State, but either an offer did not come or the Terriers decided they weren't ready for the step up in competition.
The allure of the Patriot League for the Terriers appears to be its increased stability and academic pedigree. Boston University basketball won't benefit much from the change from either a competitive or financial standpoint because the Patriot League is only slightly stronger than the America East and foes like Bucknell and Holy Cross won't be any greater or lesser draw than Vermont and Stony Brook were.
"We are very impressed by the academic quality of the institutions in the Patriot League and by the League's commitment to student-athletes while effectively competing at the NCAA Division I level," Boston University President Robert A. Brown said in a statement. "We believe that the philosophy of the League is a good match for Boston University and that the schools in the League will give our athletes a rich competitive environment."
Losing the Terriers is a significant blow to the America East, which now seems vulnerable in conference realignment. The America East only has eight remaining members, one of which, Stony Brook, also reportedly has drawn interest from the CAA.
What this means for the CAA is less clear. Perhaps the league believes the better fit is Stony Brook, which boasts an emerging basketball program to go with strong baseball and lacrosse. Or maybe the CAA intends to strengthen its southern base by making a run at Davidson and College of Charleston.
Regardless, Boston University is no longer an option. The Terriers are on the move but the destination is not the one anyone anticipated prior to Friday.