MBB Playoff Changes, 2018 Baseball Championship Site Determined at Annual Meeting
BOSTON - Improvements to the men's basketball playoffs format and site determination for the 2018 baseball championship were among the key decisions made at the 2017 America East annual meeting, which was held last week in Savannah, Ga.
The men's basketball coaches voted unanimously to eliminate the first-round game (No. 8 vs. No. 9 seed) of the America East Playoffs and shift the playoff dates, while the University of Maine's Mahaney Diamond was chosen as the location for the 2018 America East Baseball Championship.
The conference's nine athletic directors unanimously approved the men's basketball coaches' recommendation to eliminate the first-round game, which was slated to resume in 2018 with UMass Lowell becoming eligible for conference championships.
"The coaches felt that the playoff format has been really positive for the conference and that these adjustments will only make it better," said Binghamton men's basketball head coach and coaches' chair, Tommy Dempsey. "Eliminating the first round helps condense the playoffs from 11 days to eight and also allows for better spacing in regard to our regular-season conference schedule. Moving more playoff games to the weekend should only enhance the great crowds and atmosphere we've had the first three years."
For 2018, the final men's basketball games of the regular season will be played Wednesday, Feb. 28 with the top eight teams in the America East standings qualifying for the playoffs. The #AEPlayoffs will begin on Saturday, March 3 with four quarterfinal contests while the semifinals will be played on Tuesday, March 6 and the championship game taking place on Saturday, March 10.
The #AEPlayoffs have been a tremendous success since they started in 2015 with contests having drawn over 62,000 fans over those three years. Home teams are 18-3 in the format that puts every playoff contest on the higher seed's home court. Additionally, the top seed has won each of the last three championships, resulting in the conference's best three-year seeding (Vermont #13, 2017; Stony Brook #13, 2016, Albany #14, 2015) in 16 years, matching or bettering that of many of its regional conference peers.
The athletic directors also chose University of Maine to host next year's baseball championship at Mahaney Diamond, the Black Bear's 4,400-seat, artificial turf facility. The championship, which will feature six teams and be played May 23-26, will be the first baseball championship played in Orono since 2004.
"We are thrilled to be selected as the host site for the 2018 America East Baseball Championship,” said University of Maine Director of Athletics, Karlton Creech. “It will be our privilege to welcome the conference's baseball programs to Mahaney Diamond for an exciting week of baseball. This is also a tremendous opportunity for the UMaine and Orono communities to gain exposure and showcase our wonderful facilities."
The conference athletic directors, SWAs, FARs, other senior administrators and men's and women's basketball coaches gathered in Savannah, Ga. May 31-June 3 for the conference's annual meeting to discuss a variety of issues and initiatives centered around the conference's commitment to expanding the exposure and experience for its student-athletes. In particular, the members were pleased with the first year of the league's 11-year partnership with ESPN that saw 191 games produced for ESPN3. The growth in production, distribution, and viewership exceeded the league's expectations and paves the way for a successful second year. Additionally, productive dialogue about the implementation of the Mental Health Initiative, Alumni Network and ongoing partnerships with You Can Play and LGBT SportSafe were focal points of the meetings. UMBC Director of Athletics Tim Hall was selected as the next Chair of the Athletic Directors' Council and UMass Lowell Senior Associate Athletic Director Sandra Niedergall was chosen the next chair of the Senior Woman Administrator Group.
The America East provides its member schools and their athletic programs a platform upon which student-athletes can achieve both collegiate and life success through the promotion and nurturing of athletic excellence, academic achievement and leadership, on and off the field.