Morgan can't commit to series with Towson after 2009

The Baltimore Sun

As dusk settled over Hughes Stadium Saturday night, Towson coach Gordy Combs made a pitch to keep alive the football rivalry with Morgan State.

And it didn't have anything to do with the fact Towson has won 15 of the past 17 meetings between the schools.

"We still have a contract for 2008 and '09, and I hope we can extend the contract for another four or five years after that," Combs said. "I think it's a great game for both teams."

It's a game of local interest, easy travel arrangements and familiar opponents. But beyond 2009, the future of the series is uncertain.

Because the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference has expanded to 10 teams this season --- and is considering further growth - the Bears are reluctant to commit to an extension.

A nine-game MEAC schedule leaves Morgan with two nonconference games each of the next three years. Morgan athletic director Floyd Kerr said discussions are ongoing in the MEAC over how the conference will reconfigure and how the schedule will be played.

"Where we are right now, we have to solve the internal part to it," Kerr said yesterday. "Are all 10 going to play each other [every year], or will we have divisional play or something else?"

Winston-Salem State, which plays at Morgan tomorrow in a game that will not count in the MEAC standings, became the 10th team in the conference last July. Other schools, such as North Carolina Central and Savannah State, also have applied.

Kerr likes the idea of extending the Towson series, but said he owes return games to Savannah and Maine in the near future.

"I think it's a good series, good for both schools, good for the community," Kerr said of the Towson rivalry. "It's all good, and in good spirit."

Hot start for Loyola

The last time Loyola's men's soccer team started 4-0, the Greyhounds reached the NCAA tournament. Thirteen years later, they hope history repeats itself.

A sweep of Adelphi and then-No. 23 Towson last weekend in their own Black & Decker soccer classic has the Greyhounds ranked No. 26 in the College Soccer News national poll.

Sophomore co-captain Tennant McVea, who has two game-winning goals on two shots this season, was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.

Freshmen Phil Bannister had game-winners at Princeton and against Adelphi.

The Greyhounds will shoot for their first 5-0 start since 1992 today at 5 p.m. against George Washington at Diane Geppi-Aikens Field.

Court delay

The $30 million renovation of the basketball arena at Towson Center has been pushed back one year to accommodate the proper construction sequence. Towson is building an addition to the center as well as renovating it.

The refurbished arena, which will have all-new seating and a 90-degree rotation of the court, was first expected to open for the 2008-09 basketball season. Now, the target is November 2009, athletic director Mike Hermann said.

Hermann said some exterior work would begin after graduation in June, and that the "intensive inner-arena renovation" would start in March after the 2008-09 season.

On UMBC's horizon

UMBC athletic director Charles Brown, who recently received a contract extension through 2011, has visions of a new arena on his campus, as well.

Although there are no formal designs or financing in place, Brown said a location has been identified in the university's master plan. The new arena would be off Hilltop Circle near the university stadium at what is now a parking lot.

For now, Brown is content with smaller projects, such as replacing the upper bleachers at RAC Arena, where the Retrievers play basketball.

"I don't think there's a realistic timetable now," he said. "It's something that I know we need. I feel confident it will happen at some point. I don't think it's around the corner, but how far down the block it is, I don't know."

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