|Ithaca defeated Hobart and Union this season in two football games vs. Liberty League opponents.
Ithaca athletics photos
|The Bombers' move will set back the Empire 8's attempts to get an automatic bid in baseball. With Ithaca, the E8 would first be eligible for an AQ in 2017, but losing Ithaca will drop the conference below the seven teams needed.|
Ithaca's athletics program has been accepted into the Liberty League as the conference's newest member.
Ithaca's move to the Liberty League will occur no later than the 2018-19 academic year, as the Bombers become the conference's 11th full-member institution. Ithaca student-athletes will compete in all of the Liberty League's 26 championship sports except men's golf and squash.
However, the move is of particular benefit to the Liberty League's football programs. The LL is losing three football programs to the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference, which was learned when the NEWMAC announced back in April 2015 that it was adding football. Ithaca will be the LL's sixth football program and the conference will need to find a seventh by 2019 or lose its football automatic bid.
Ithaca College, which has won 15 NCAA Division III team national championships to go with 31 individual national champions, has a rich tradition of producing student-athletes who achieve success not only in their chosen sport, but also in the classroom and the community.
That balance of academic and athletic success is a big reason why the Bombers were extended an invitation to join the Liberty League, according to Tracy King, the conference's commissioner.
"I am excited to welcome Ithaca College as our newest Liberty League full-member institution," said King. "IC is an outstanding academic institution with a distinguished history of success as an NCAA Division III member. The addition of IC will strengthen our Liberty League membership and will enhance the competitive opportunities for our student-athletes."
According to King, the Liberty League member institutions place the highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of its student-athletes' academic programs, a trait shared by Ithaca.
Current Liberty League full members include Bard, Clarkson, Hobart & William Smith, RPI, Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. Lawrence, Skidmore, Union and Vassar.
"The member institutions of the Liberty League share IC's commitment to a broad vision of educational excellence that spans academic and co-curricular experiences," said Tom Rochon, Ithaca's president. "Educationally and athletically, we look forward to joining these distinguished peers."
Additionally, Liberty League member institutions seek to establish and maintain an environment in which a student-athlete's athletic activities are conducted as an integral part of the educational experience.
"The academic prestige and athletic accomplishments of the Liberty League members are in line with the educational and athletic environment here at Ithaca College," said Barb Belyea, clinical professor of physical therapy and Ithaca's Faculty Athletic Representative. "I am excited for our student-athletes to be able to participate at this caliber of competition and carry on the tradition of Bomber excellence."
"The Liberty League is an impressive association of academic institutions with a common commitment to the educational benefits created through participation in intercollegiate competition," said Susan Bassett, Ithaca's Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports.
"Ithaca College embraces the philosophical tenets of the league and the commitment to the scholar-athlete ideal upon which it was founded. Our coaches and student-athletes look forward to the opportunity to compete in the Liberty League."
Ithaca, which currently is a member of the Empire 8 Conference, has a history with many of the current Liberty League institutions. Additionally, many Bomber teams currently compete against Liberty League schools during the non-conference portion of their schedules.
The Empire 8 evolved from the Independent College Athletic Conference and Empire Athletic Association. Ithaca joined the ICAC in 1971 along with current Liberty League members Clarkson, Hobart, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, RIT, and St. Lawrence.
"Our entry to the Liberty League reconnects IC with some of the schools we used to compete with, and our alumni will enjoy renewing cherished rivalries. Yet, our departure from the Empire 8 is bittersweet," said Bassett. "As a founding member of the Empire 8, we have shared strong partnerships with our colleagues. We hold the Empire 8 Commissioner, Chuck Mitrano, and all of the member institutions in high regard. We look forward to continued competition with Empire 8 institutions, regardless of conference membership, for years to come."