|Clarkson athletics photo by Steve Jacobs
Stevens will be leaving the Empire 8 to join the MAC Freedom, effective the fall of 2019, multiple sources have confirmed to Hoopsville and D3sports.com. The Ducks of Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New York, will be filling the spot vacated by Manhattanville, which announced in May that it would be returning to the Skyline Conference in 2019-20.
Stevens joins a conference which is relatively compact, geographically. It will become the furthest school to the northeast, with FDU-Florham 27 miles to the west. Eastern and Delaware Valley are in the Philadelphia suburbs, DeSales is in Allentown and King's, Misericordia and Wilkes are in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area. Its longest trip would be two and a half hours. In the Empire 8, Stevens regularly makes trips twice that long, to reach schools in Rochester, New York.
Sources are not identified because they are not yet permitted to speak publicly about the subject. However, motivating factors for Stevens would likely include a reduction in missed class time and likely reduced spending on athletics, as participation in the MAC Freedom would mean less travel time and no overnight stays required for conference play.
The Ducks participated in the Skyline Conference, an even more geographically compact conference centered around New York City, until the 2007-08 season. Stevens had initially announced itself as part of the original membership of the Landmark Conference, but left that group before it made its debut in order to join the Empire 8.
Stevens won the Commissioner's Cup in the Empire 8 this past season, winning titles in 10 sports: men's and women's soccer, men's cross country, women's volleyball, men's swimming, women's basketball, women's indoor track, men's volleyball, men's tennis and men's lacrosse. (The MAC Freedom does not sponsor men's volleyball, a sport in which Stevens is a national power, but the MAC has seven current members between its two conferences which sponsor the sport and holds a joint championship.)
The move will, ironically, return the Empire 8 to its nominal numerical total, rather than the nine schools it has operated with for some time. However, the conference shuffle rarely pauses, and more moves could be in the offing in New York.