Spoke with Fairfield athletic director Gene Doris last night during the Stags’ game against UW-Milwaukee. Here’s a portion of our discussion.
1. So what’s going on with the MAAC right now?
Doris: “Quite frankly, as I mentioned to you last time, is speculation. I mean are the presidents going to talk about potential changes in the league? Yeah. What’s going to come out of that, that’s another story.
“There’s a number of schools that they looked at, and in fairness to those schools, it’s not fair to throw them out there because if they don’t get in people are going to start questioning (why not).
“Originally when I talked to you I said they could stay at nine, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think we will at least replace Loyola and then the question is do you go to 11 or 12. And I think the possibility of going to 11 is there.”
2. So, the league won’t go to 12 teams?
Doris: “I think 12 will happen but not this year. I don’t believe that to be the case because there are too many unknown situations in regard to schools that are involved. That being the case, I would be surprised if they came back and said we decided to do knowing. I think it will be 1 or 2 coming in.”
3. Some names have been speculated out there, Quinnipiac and Monmouth, and those types of schools.
Doris: “That’s the level of school, there’s no question about that. When you look at the profile of the MAAC the type of school … Obviously conference movement is a marriage and when you leave a conference that’s a divorce. … There are a lot of things that go into it, and whether it’s one or two I think it’s got to be (the right fit for both sides). The schools that are all involved are the same type school that are in the MAAC. You are talking about private schools; the enrollment is about the same or roughly the same.”
4. Is the MAAC looking to expand outside its area to maybe Florida or out West?
Doris: “Lets put it this way, if we don’t a school that’s already in the market or close to the market, it’s very tough to have someone who is an outliner. The reason Buffalo works is because you have Canisius and Niagara. If it was just one, it wouldn’t work. ”
(Doris and I then discussed travel partners in the league. Men’s basketball doesn’t currently use one, but the league’s other sports do have them. That led to my next question)
5. So if a school like Quinnipiac came in it would work out well for (Fairfield) because it would be an in-state school, close by and travel partner for you?
Doris: “We have a situation where we are losing arguably our biggest rival in the league even though we are not next door to each other. So, as I look at it Manhattan has Iona, Saint Peter’s has Rider, Marist has Siena, and the Marist-Siena rivalry existed before Marist came into the MAAC. When I was (the AD at Marist) when they were in the Northeast Conference that was a big non-conference game every year. And obviously, you have Canisius and Niagara. We would like someone who can obviously generate some interest among our fans. Bringing in another school is nice, but we want to bring in another school that obviously has interest to us.
“If you bring in somebody that’s so far away or there’s nothing in common, it doesn’t do much for our rivals in the leagues. And then it becomes some years it will be Iona, some years it will be Manhattan, some years it will be Marist depending on if we’re good and they’re good, whatever.
“You’d much rather have it where whether you are good or bad, you’ve got that rivalry going.”