The latest game of conference musical chairs will have a considerable impact on Loyola College.
The Greyhounds are members of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, which yesterday lost its most visible member, La Salle, to the Midwestern Collegiate Conference.
Duquesne, which had been a member of the Atlantic 10, also joined the seven-member conference, which will change its name and drop the Midwestern reference.
The two teams will compete in basketball and other sports beginning with the 1992-93 season.
Loyola athletic director Joe Boylan attended expansion meetings this summer with officials from the MCC, whose current members include Xavier, Dayton, Evansville, Loyola of Chicago and Butler. Notre Dame, an independent in men's basketball, is a member in other men's and women's sports.
Boylan broke off talks with the MCC last month, saying that the Greyhounds were committed to the Metro Atlantic for the time being. Yesterday, however, he did not rule out a subsequent conference shift by Loyola.
"We recently decided not to pursue the Midwestern Collegiate Conference simply because it wasn't the right time to change," Boylan said. "Economics had a lot to do with that decision. Plus, Father [Joseph] Sellinger [the Loyola president] has strong feelings toward the MAAC.
"While staying in the MAAC, we will continue to reassess our situation. . . . The Midwestern Collegiate has the opportunity to be a very good league. It has the potential to add more schools in the East."
Commissioner Tucker DiEdwardo said Duquesne and La Salle were invited to join because of their similarities to MCC schools. Both are private institutions located in urban areas with quality academic and athletic standards and similar enrollments.
That would also seem to describe Loyola, which left the Northeast Conference in 1989 to join the MAAC, where the other institutions also have a Jesuit background. La Salle carries the highest profile of the nine current members, as the Explorers won the Commissioner's Cup, symbolic of overall excellence, for the seventh time in eight years in 1990-91.
La Salle won four MAAC titles last year, and has the only soccer program that came remotely close to beating Loyola, which has never lost a game to an MAAC soccer opponent.
More important to the shift in conference affiliation, the Explorers have the MAAC's most visible basketball program, one that followedLionel Simmons to three straight titles and NCAA appearances during 1988-90.
With La Salle showing the way, the MAAC's power rating among the nation's 34 Division I basketball conferences rose to No. 16 last season.
The MCC receives automatic bids to NCAA tournaments in men's and women's basketball, baseball, soccer and volleyball.
Last season, the MCC's televised basketball package included a game of the week, national coverage of the league championship and appearances on ESPN and SportsChannel America.
"One of our handicaps in the MAAC was most of the TV was based out of New York," La Salle athletic director Bob Mullen said. "Year after year, we were atop the standings, but we didn't get much exposure."
La Salle, in north Philadelphia, is Loyola's closest geographic rival.