Buffalo State heading to Liberty League

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Buffalo State would play games all over the state of New York, but wouldn't have to leave it, if the conference moves and discussed scheduling agreements come to fruition.

Buffalo State is in the final phases of becoming the seventh football program in the Liberty League, helping the conference maintain its automatic bid, D3sports.com and In the HuddLLe have learned.

Sources who told the organizations of plans asked not to be identified, since the final vote has not taken place. Buffalo State officials and the Liberty League office each described plans as being in the works, but not yet finalized.

The conference has been in need of new football programs for nearly two years, since the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference announced in April 2015 it would sponsor football, bringing Springfield and WPI back home to the NEWMAC, where they are members in all sports. Springfield and WPI were associate members of the Liberty League in football.

Buffalo State currently plays football in the Empire 8.

In December 2015, the LL announced it would add Ithaca as its sixth football member, effective this season. Because there is a two-year grace period, the LL maintains its automatic qualifier to the 2017 and 2018 Division III football playoffs. Adding Buffalo State in 2018 will ensure that the conference has seven football-playing schools in 2019, when the grace period expires, and should keep the LL in line to retain its automatic bid.

Look for more discussion and analysis in the next edition of the D3football.com Around the Nation Podcast, coming this week.

Ithaca joins the conference for all sports in 2017-18, giving the league 10 full members. However, Bard, Clarkson, RIT, Skidmore and Vassar do not sponsor football.

Buffalo State will be an affiliate member for football and would remain in the State University of New York Athletic Conference for the remainder of its sports.

As a public institution, Buffalo State would be a significant departure for a conference which has seen itself as a home to schools more focused on academics than athletics. With the conference changes already taking place in 2017, Buffalo State is already playing RPI and St. Lawrence, and many other LL-E8 games are on the schedule as well.

A move would leave both the Empire 8 and Liberty League at seven football-playing schools, with four non-conference games to fill. The conferences would need to play each other frequently in order to fill 10-game schedules, and a formal scheduling agreement or joint schedule is possible going forward.

The moves would result in the following conference alignments in 2019 for the groups affected by the New England Shuffle. The changes would mean that there would be 27 automatic bids to the NCAA playoffs in 2019, with five at-large (Pool C) bids.

ECFC Empire 8 Liberty League CCC (former NEFC) NEWMAC ODAC
Alfred State Alfred Buffalo State Becker Catholic Bridgewater
Anna Maria
Brockport Hobart
Coast Guard
Emory & Henry
Cortland Ithaca Endicott
Dean Hartwick Rochester
Morrisville State RPI
Salve Regina
St. John Fisher Union
U. New England Maine Maritime
Mount Ida
Utica St. Lawrence W. New England Merchant Marine
Washington & Lee
SUNY-Maritime       Norwich  
No change in AQ.
No change in AQ. No change in AQ. No change in AQ. Would gain AQ in 2019. No change in AQ.