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East Coast Conference facing its final days


La Salle was there at the start of the East Coast Conference, as were Temple, St. Joseph's and American. Later migrations took Bucknell, Lafayette and Lehigh, and then Delaware and Drexel. The most recent movement in the never-ending realignment of Division I athletics has the ECC's days dwindling down to a precious few.

The ECC opened for business in 1974 as a basketball coaches' conference, with Gary Williams, Paul Westhead, Tom Davis, Jim Valvano, Don Casey and Joe Harrington roaming the sidelines.

Its finish will be somewhat less grand, although the champion of this weekend's baseball tournament in West Windsor, N.J., will go on to the NCAA tournament, a perk the Towson State basketball team didn't enjoy in March. The loss of that automatic bid because of membership changes is the main reason the Tigers and UMBC will be in the Big South Conference and Rider in the Northeast come fall.

The four other colleges in the ECC will meet later this month to discuss scheduling for next year, but it needs six members to be recognized as a conference by the NCAA, and 1998 is the earliest it can regain an automatic bid to the basketball tournament under current guidelines.

Commissioner John Carpenter holds out hope that there's a future for the ECC through expansion. He's also realistic.

"This weekend is the end [of the ECC] as we know it," Carpenter said.


Three-peat?: The Navy men will try to make it three straight Heptagonal (Ivy League plus Army and Navy) track and field titles at Yale Saturday and Sunday. Coach Steve Cooksey's squad won outdoors last spring and took the indoor title in February. Junior Greg Keller figures to better the NCAA qualifying mark in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (8 minutes, 43.00 seconds).

In Emmitsburg, Mount St. Mary's junior Rob Pendergist also will be trying to qualify for the NCAAs at the Eastern Decathlon Championships.

Champions from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference will spend the weekend in the Bahamas, at the Carlos Mackey Sprints and Relays.

UMES is sending Perry Pemberton (200) and its women's 4x400 relay of Ronetta Hockaday, Michelle Nurse, Jessica Hudson and Dawnette Douglass. Morgan State will be represented by Andrea Thomas (400), Lisa Shands (1,500) and Lisa Edmonds (400 hurdles) and men's 800 champion Simon Bowen. Coppin State's Diana Pitts is in the 800, which Morgan State's Thomas covered in a state-leading 2:07.9 last week in Kingston, Jamaica.


JuCo lacrosse: Essex Community College again will represent Maryland in the national junior college men's lacrosse tournament tomorrow and Saturday at SUNY-Farmingdale. The defending champion Knights (10-2) play Nassau, and top-seeded Herkimer (14-0) faces the host team in the other semifinal.

Loyola-bound Sean Heffernan and Andy Martin have combined for 54 goals, but coach Tim Puls has been impressed by a defense that has Sean O'Connell (Oakland Mills) and goalie Vince Rose (Overlea).


Notes: Frostburg State concluded the interview process in its search for a football coach yesterday, and could name a successor to Dennis Riccio before week's end. . . . Goucher's inaugural season in men's lacrosse ended with a 3-6 record. . . . York College's Chip Barlett, a sophomore second baseman from Overlea who hit .433, is on the Capital Athletic Conference all-star baseball team.

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