Loyola Athletics to Join Patriot League

By Ryan Eigenbrode

The 2011-12 athletic year was a banner 12 months for the Greyhounds, one that saw the men’s basketball team advance to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 18 years, the men’s golf team capture its fifth-straight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title, a second-consecutive Big East Conference title for the women’s lacrosse program and the capping achievement, the 2012 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship.

Loyola student-athletes performed equally well in the classroom, with more than 200 earning GPAs of higher than 3.0, nearly 200 named to the Dean’s List, and several teams garnering national recognition for academic achievement.

This convergence of athletic and academic ambition and success—a longstanding tradition for the Greyhounds, was strengthened in August, when the University announced its teams would shift to the Patriot League beginning with the Fall 2013 season.

“The Patriot League, is known, quite rightly, just as well for its student-athletes’ performance in the classroom as their accomplishments on the field,” said Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., Loyola’s president. “I am hard-pressed to conclude we could be in any finer company.”

The Patriot League, which will also add Boston University next year, includes American University, Bucknell University, Colgate University, the College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, the United States Naval Academy, and the United States Military Academy. Since 1998, the Patriot League has ranked first among all Division I conferences in student-athlete graduation rates in the NCAA Graduation Rates report. In the most recent year, it ranked second only to the Ivy League in terms of student-athlete academic progress.

The Patriot League’s teams also boast considerable success in the athletic arena. Lehigh advanced to the third round of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament after defeating Duke University in the second round, and Colgate boasts the reigning Men’s Lacrosse National Player of the Year, Tewaaraton Award winner Peter Baum.

In addition to creating new opportunities for Loyola to compete against programs that share its academic and athletic ideals, the move allows the University to centralize its athletic programs in one conference rather than scattering teams in various leagues. The Patriot League holds championships in 17 sports in which the Greyhounds compete; men’s rowing will continue to row a regionally competitive schedule.

The partnership will also foster regional rivalries with American in Washington, D.C., and Navy in Annapolis, Md., and will bring the Greyhounds to the Boston area for games at Boston University and Worcester, Mass.-based Holy Cross.

“Loyola athletics’ primary mission is to support the development of student-athletes who thrive academically, athletically, spiritually, and socially,” said James Paquette, assistant vice president and director of athletics at Loyola. “The Patriot League embraces and supports those values, and we are thrilled to become partners with the league. Its members’ histories of academic and athletic excellence are impressive, and consistent not only with Loyola’s past achievements, but our future ambitions, as well.”

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