I had the chance to speak with Elizabethtown head coach Eric Walker today about his team’s move to the Metropolitan Conference for the 2007-2008 season. As seen in an earlier post, for 2006-2007, Elizabethtown, Delaware Valley, Lycoming, and Messiah all joined the Midwest Regional. Now, only Delaware Valley is left. The main reason Walker cited for his team’s move was travel expenses. If Messiah and Lycoming had been able to stay in the region and bid to host it every other year or two, Elizabethtown may have stayed in the region. However, with Delaware Valley unable to host, and the other schools gone to the Empire Conference, Walker and his team were going to have to travel quite far every year, as Manchester often hosts the Midwest (as they did this year), and the school is close to 600 miles away. The move to the Metro makes the 180 mile trip to New York City the farthest Elizabethtown will have to travel.
In terms of selecting the Metropolitan Conference, there were three main reasons given. First was the aforementioned travel savings. Second, the Metropolitan Conference does not require the teams to wrestle dual meets against each other. This allowed E-town to keep its schedule mostly intact except for changing the national qualifying tournament. Finally, Elizabethtown approached the Centennial Conference about joining but was told the conference was not interested in expansion. A last minor factor was the fact that Wilkes, Scranton, and Kings, former MAC schools like E-town, were already Metro Conference members. The Metro conference said they were willing to take one more team, and E-town had the chance to take that spot.
Walker believes the Metro will be a better fit for E-town than the Empire would have been. Oneonta, Cortland, Brockport, and Oswego are all SUNY schools that can offer in-state tuition to New York residents. Though E-town is in Pennsylvania, this could be a disadvantage in recruiting in a conference with numerous state schools. Overall, Walker is happy with the move to the Metro an is excited to rebuild the tradition of the team he has led since 2003.
The reconfigured Metropolitan Conference now includes Centenary, Elizabethtown, Hunter, King’s, SUNY-Maritime, NYU, Scranton, TCNJ, Wilkes, and York.