First was that Lehigh and the Patriot League were singled out for praise in an AP story in regards to academic performance. The NCAA singled out 712 sports teams across the NCAA for their excellent work in the classroom, of which 150 were from the Ivy League and 89 were from the Patriot League.
Yale produced the most impressive classroom performance for the second straight year. Of the 29 men’s and women’s sports offered by the school and measured by the NCAA, the Bulldogs made the list in 28 sports. Dartmouth was honored 24 times, followed by Brown (21), the University of Pennsylvania (20), Princeton (19) and Harvard (18).
Other schools that fared well included Bucknell (17), Lehigh and Holy Cross (15), Davidson (14), Lafayette and Colgate (13). The Naval Academy, Duke and Georgetown each had 12 teams on the list, and Notre Dame had 11 although the Fighting Irish did not make it in football.
Lehigh didn't make it in football either - and interestingly, 11 of the 15 teams which were honored were women's sports. The full list of Lehigh's award-winning sports are: Baseball, Men's & Women's Cross Country, Men's & Women's Tennis, Wrestling, Women's Basketball, Women's Golf, Women's Lacrosse, Women's Rowing, Women's Soccer, Softball, Women's Track (Indoor), Women's Track (Outdoor), and Women's Volleyball.
The second item - and one that I will be talking about next week for sure - is the expansion of the FCS football playoff field to 20 teams in 2010:
As a result of the NCAA Board of Directors� approval of a new budget that allows for the expansion of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision post-season bracket, the Northeast Conference will gain automatic access into the Division I Football Championship beginning in 2010. NEC Football is also eligible for automatic qualification into the championship bracket during the 2008 and 2009 seasons if its champion meets specifications of the bridge program.
The recently-approved budget contained a proposal from the Division I Football Championship Committee calling for an increase in the number of FCS playoff participants to 20, a 25 percent rise from its current 16-team format. The NEC will acquire one of the four added berths and be guaranteed an opportunity to play for the 2010 FCS Championship.
The other automatic bid is widely believed to be the Big South, home to Stony Brook, Coastal Carolina, Liberty, Charleston Southern, Gardner-Webb, and VMI. Should they compete as a league for the next two years, their first year of playoff eligibility will be, indeed, in 2010.
The interesting thing to the Patriot League is the domino that might now have fallen in terms of scholarships for the NEC. It seems likely that the NEC will vote an increase in scholarships offered from 30 to 45 to prepare for 2010, making the competition for Division I football players even more intense in the northeast.
2010 will officially look like a very different world than even 2008 in terms of FCS football. When recruiting against the NEC, there was always the carrot of a possible autobid to play in the FCS championship. In 2010, NEC schools can offer the exact same carrot - and scholarships to boot.
What, if anything, will the Patriot League do?