Sage set to join Empire 8

The Sage women's basketball team has enjoyed recent success under coach Allison Coleman, reaching the NCAA Tournament in 2015 and the Skyline Conference title game this past season.
Sage athletics photo 

Sage has been accepted into the Empire 8 as the conference’s newest member. The Sage Colleges’ move to the Empire 8 will coincide with the start of the 2017-18 academic year, as the Gators will become the ninth full member.

Sage, with campuses in Troy, N.Y., and Albany, N.Y., has been a member of the Skyline Conference, primarily based around New York City and Long Island.

“Sage is an excellent academic institution with strong athletic programs and leadership," said Empire 8 Commissioner Chuck Mitrano. “They are a terrific fit for the Empire 8 and we are excited to welcome them to the Empire 8 family.”

“The presidents of the colleges within the Empire 8 Athletic Conference voted unanimously to extend this invitation to the Sage Colleges,” remarked Margaret L. Drugovich, president of Hartwick and chair of the Empire 8 President’s Council. She added, “Our confidence is well earned - their athletic director Danielle Drews and president Susan Scrimshaw impressed us with their commitment to membership in the Empire 8 as well as their commitment to the transformative experience of Division III athletics. My presidential colleagues and I welcome them, their scholar-athletes, and their Sage colleagues to the Empire 8 Athletic Conference.”

The Empire 8 lineup, barring further additions, will include Alfred, Elmira, Hartwick, Houghton, Nazareth, Sage, St. John Fisher, Stevens and Utica. Ithaca previously announced it was leaving for the Liberty League.

“Sage is excited to be joining the elite Empire 8 Athletic Conference," said President Susan Scrimshaw. “We are so proud of our athletic department, its staff and all of our Sage Gator athletes. Sage's athletic program has now grown to 15 Division III teams and this move is a natural fit that will continue to propel our athletic department forward and enable our teams and student-athletes to continue to thrive.“

“We are honored by the invitation from the conference presidents to join the Empire 8, one of the most well-respected conferences in Division III” noted Sage’s athletic director, Dani Drews. She added, “Sage embraces the new challenges and opportunities this new membership provides and are grateful to Commissioner Chuck Mitrano and the entire Empire 8 conference for their consideration and support.”

Drews also continued, “It is a bittersweet moment for us to be leaving the Skyline Conference after this year. Commissioner Linda Bruno and the Skyline members have done so much for Sage, helping our department grow from five teams to 15 varsity programs in just a few short years. We are indebted to them for everything they have done for Sage and our Gators.”

The Empire 8 sponsors championships in 23 sports- 12 for women and 11 for men. The Empire 8 champions receive automatic bids to NCAA Division III championships in 14 sports. Sage currently sponsors 15 varsity sports: men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s golf, women’s lacrosse, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s tennis, men’s and women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s track and field.

The Sage athletic department has undergone tremendous expansion since 2007 when the Russell Sage Gators began adding athletic programs to the Sage College of Albany campus. In the past nine years, the Sage Gators have added 10 varsity programs to reach their current number of 15 (eight for women, seven for men). During that time, four programs have earned NCAA berths as Skyline Conference champion automatic qualifiers. Last year, Sage had their highest finish in the Skyline Commissioner’s Cup, third place, after winning a share of four regular-season titles and their first men’s soccer tournament crown.