The American East Conference has barred Boston University from competing in its league tournament for the upcoming 2012-2013 season, reports the Albany Times-Union. The punishment comes as a response to BU’s decision to leave the AmEast for the Patriot League— which is really a lateral move, all things considered—beginning next summer.
The Terriers would need to snatch an at-large bid next season to qualify for the 2013 NCAA tournament, which essentially renders the penalty a full-fledged tournament ban for one season. BU has never earned an at-large berth, and the American East is consistently a one-bid league.
The steep penalty issued by the AmEast is an offshoot of a similar situation in 2005, when Northeastern left the league for the Colonial Athletic Association. Under previous bylaws, Northeastern was allowed to participate in its conference tournament, prompting league officials to amend the law. The new laws in effect bar fleeting conference members from participating in the conference tournament during lame duck seasons.
This is not the first conference tournament ban handed down by a league to a departing member for the upcoming season.
The Colonial Athletic Association, which is losing Georgia State to the Sun Belt and Old Dominion to Conference USA, has forbidden the two schools from taking part in next year’s conference tournament. The temporary banning is a death knell for Georgia State, which like BU has no feasible shot at earning an at-large bid.
For Old Dominion, however, an at-large spot is well within the realm of possibility. The Monarchs nabbed a spot in the 2007 NCAA tournament despite losing in the championship game of the CAA conference tournament. Still, an at-large bid would be quite a tall task for an ODU program which loses its top three scorers from a team that lost to Mercer in the quarterfinals of the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (colloquially referred to as the CIT).
While major conferences like the Big East and Big XII have allowed (West Virginia, Missouri, Texas A&M) and still intend to allow (Syracuse, Pittsburgh) departing schools to participate in conference tournaments during lame duck seasons, mid-major league are holding their ground. Whereas money is the engine behind name-brand conferences permitting renegade members from competing in league tourneys, integrity and loyalty continue to drive smaller conferences.
Moral of the story: Little conferences can dole out big punishments too. Unlike power-six conferences manipulated by the bottom line, smaller leagues aren’t pulling any punches.
Tags: Am East Tournament AmEast American East Basketball Barred Boston University BU Conference Conference Realignment Conference Tournament Conference USA Basketball Georgia State League Old Dominion Patriot League Penalty Postseason Ban Punishment Sun Belt Terriers Tournament Ban