Edison, N.J. - The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference concluded its annual series of spring league meetings last week. The MAAC Council of Presidents met at the Lotos Club in New York City, followed by the MAAC Committee on Athletic Administration and Men's & Women's Basketball Coaches meeting at the Boardwalk Hotel Conference Center in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The league focused on the national realignment of NCAA Division I conferences and the league's on-going improvement of its broadcast and technology efforts.
On the subject of league realignment, the MAAC Presidents reiterated their long-term commitment to the 31-year-old conference that has focused on success in athletics with high standards of academic excellence and concern for student-athlete welfare. The league celebrated its first team national championship by a member school when Loyola University Maryland won the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship, while the MAAC ranked in the top 10% of Division I conferences in the NCAA academic success metrics.
The MAAC Presidents noted their previously-stated willingness to consider expansion of the 10 teams within the MAAC with new member institutions that meet the conference's criteria including:
- Institutions that strive for success in academics and athletics
- Institutions that share common admissions standards
- Institutions that desire to expand their enrollment base beyond traditional local markets
- Institutions that fund athletic programs within the same general expenditure range
- Institutions that place a focus on student-athletes and their welfare
- Institutions that feature basketball as their prominent sport
- Institutions that place value on the use of broadcasting on multiple distribution platforms
The MAAC Presidents also received a number of reports, including an update on basketball facilities upgrades, branding plans for the member institutions and the success of the inaugural neutral site MAAC Basketball Championships at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass. It was noted that team fan travel to the championships exceeded expectations, and as a result, the MAAC Presidents requested expansion of fan room blocks for the 2013 championships. Additionally, the MAAC Presidents commended the MAAC staff and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on the opening of the "MAAC Experience" and the inaugural MAAC Honor Roll Dinner at the Hall of Fame.
Moving forward, the MAAC Committee on Athletic Administration is focusing on the site selection of the 2015-18 MAAC Basketball Championships. The committee reviewed a draft of bid specifications for that cycle and initial discussions focused on a slight modification of the format that will reduce early morning games for the women's teams and the late game start for the last men's quarterfinal game on Saturday. General consensus was reached on the changes that will be presented to the MAAC Presidents at their December meeting for approval as part of the 2015-18 bids. The revised bid specifications are expected to be distributed to interested arenas in mid-March 2013, with a site decision scheduled for the MAAC Council of Presidents meeting in June 2013.
The MAAC Committee on Athletic Administration and basketball coaches reviewed technology changes and expansion of the MAAC/ESPN partnership with Dan Shoemaker of ESPN's Charlotte office and Mike Colangelo of ESPN3. The group endorsed a change in the MAAC's Preseason Awards Show that has historically taken place in October. The new format will have individual men's and women's shows broadcast on ESPN3 before the home openers of the previous year's champions - the Marist College women and the Loyola University Maryland men - as part of the opening day of the 2012-13 basketball season on Friday, November 9.
Details are in final development, but broadcast elements will include a review of the 2011-12 season, Preseason All-MAAC Team selections for the 2012-13 season and the announcement of the MAAC Preseason Players of the Year. Another focus of the productions will be the unveiling of the 2012 MAAC Championship banners at Marist and Loyola. As part of the show's production, the league members agreed to have its annual fall men's and women's basketball coaches meeting at the ESPN3 studio facilities at Walt Disney World, which will coordinate the filming of elements for the shows as well as regular-season production elements for the expanded 43-game broadcast package with ESPNU and ESPN3.
In-game production standards for the 2012-13 season broadcasts were also reviewed at the meetings, including coaches' interviews at the 12-minute marks of the broadcasts, pre-game locker room cut-ins and halftime interviews with student-athletes. It was noted that these production elements are becoming industry norms, and increased access is expected by broadcasters and fans to enhance the viewing experience.
For the 2013 MAAC Basketball Championships, the league also reviewed a new promotion entitled "Shooting for Springfield," which is designed to generate excitement and awareness within the communities of the MAAC member institutions, increase student attendance and promote general ticket sales. The event will take place the last two weeks of the season at the campuses of all the member institutions. It will be conducted by the MAAC Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, who will be seeking to garner the most student support on their campus in order to be awarded a grant for their designated charity or program enhancement.
In other business, the MAAC Committee on Athletic Administration amended the hosting requirement for MAAC championships to include a number of new broadcast requirements on MAAC.TV, including two-camera minimums, sideline interviews and awards banquet broadcasts. The plan initially focuses enhancements to the 2013-14 MAAC Championships webcasts in men's and women's soccer, volleyball, men's and women's lacrosse, water polo, softball and baseball. Efforts will be made to rollout these plans in the upcoming season, if possible.
NCAA governance and reform issues were the focus of meetings between the basketball coaches, the MAAC Committee on Athletic Administration and NCAA Division I Vice President David Berst. Topics reviewed included transfer rules, Academic Progress Rate (APR) standards and other topics of the reform agenda being pushed by NCAA President Mark Emmert.