NAC could stabilize shaky Towson picture

Has there been a more unsettling year in Towson State's sports history?

The future of the football program was publicly debated last fall. Basketball coach Terry Truax, fresh off a second straight NCAA appearance, plans to speak to Virginia Tech about its coaching vacancy after losing the job at Old Dominion yesterday to former Maryland assistant Oliver Purnell. Most important to the future of the entire athletic program, Towson State will learn next week if and when it is moving to the North Atlantic Conference.


The NAC will meet a week from today in Boston to vote on Towson State's application for membership.

Athletic director Bill Hunter said that the Tigers are committed to moving to the North Atlantic, and that Towson State wants to be there for the 1991-92 year. Stuart Haskell, commissioner of the NAC, said the conference "will try to do what is best for Towson State," but finances and logistics make 1992-93 more realistic.


Going to the North Atlantic in 1992 also would save Towson State the specter of legal maneuvering by the East Coast Conference, which it wants to leave. Five colleges have left or will leave the ECC between the summers of 1990 and '91, but all gave a year's notice. The ECC might attempt to block Towson State's departure, if it was planned for this summer.

"If a school is going to leave, it's expected to give a year's notice," ECC commissioner John Carpenter said. "Some of our presidents might want to strongly pursue things from the legal end."

Towson State's departure would most likely be the first domino in another round of defections. The North Atlantic's agenda in Boston next week also will include Hofstra's application for membership, and the Northeast Conference's expansion plans could include fellow ECC schools UMBC, Rider and Central Connecticut.

On the surface, the ECC strengthened itself with the addition of Brooklyn College last week, and it could announce at any time that Buffalo is joining. Pending a long shot appeal, however, the ECC still won't be involved in the NCAA basketball tournament next year, so it is without the No. 1 attraction the low-level Division I conferences offer.

* Loyola basketball coach Tom Schneider was able to schedule some solid non-conference opponents for Reitz Arena next season.

The January home schedule includes two NCAA tournament regulars, Princeton and Xavier. Princeton sage Pete Carril is one of the game's best coaches, but the local angle for the game against the Tigers is Matt Eastwick, who will be a senior then. A Gilman School graduate, Eastwick has been a mainstay at forward for Princeton the last three seasons.

The Greyhounds open in a tournament at Stanford Thanksgiving weekend, and the same West Coast swing has them visiting another Loyola, Marymount.

* The Johns Hopkins women haven't done anything to prevent themselves from returning to the NCAA Division III lacrosse tournament. The Blue Jays split a pair of 8-7 decisions, as they beat Ursinus, the defending NCAA champion, but fell to Roanoke, an NCAA semifinalist last year.


Hopkins' top seniors are Kathy Herring and Jennifer Chun, a pair of midfielders from New Jersey, and goalie Kristin Cole, who's from Boothwyn, Pa.

Unbeaten Roanoke (5-0) has gotten 17 goals and five assists from Leigh Budnitz, a senior from Garrison Forest. She was an All-American as a sophomore.

* One of the top baseball players in the Colonial Athletic Association is East Carolina third baseman John Gast, a junior from McDonogh. In 22 games, Gast has a .392 average, 21 RBIs, five home runs, eight doubles and nine stolen bases. A three-year starter, Gast initially attended Auburn, where he never played.

* Corey Wallace, a Meade High grad who helped Allegany to a No. 5 ranking among the nation's junior college basketball teams, visited Clemson earlier this week . . . Eric Watkinson, a senior captain from Parkville, helped the Western Maryland golf team win the Susquehanna Spring Invitational for the second straight year . . . Barry Brown, who went to Cardinal Gibbons, ended his James Madison basketball career as the Dukes' all-time shot blocker, No. 3 in career field goal percentage and No. 10 in career rebounds.