The Patriot League is a collegiate athletic conference comprising private institutions of higher education and two United States service academies based in the Northeastern United States. Outside the Ivy League, it is among the most selective groups of higher education institutions in NCAA Division I, and has a very high student-athlete graduation rate for both the NCAA graduation success rate and the federal graduation rate.
|Members||10 full, 4 associate|
|Former names||Colonial League|
|Headquarters||Center Valley, Pennsylvania|
|Commissioner||Jennifer Heppel (since 2015)|
The Patriot League has 10 core members: American University, the United States Military Academy (Army), Boston University, Bucknell University, Colgate University, College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Loyola University Maryland, and the United States Naval Academy (Navy). All 10 core members participate in the NCAA's Division I for all Patriot League sports that they offer. Since not all schools sponsor every available NCAA sport, most schools are affiliated with other collegiate conferences for sports such as ice hockey and wrestling.
Only half of the conference's core members compete in the Patriot League for football, as part of the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS): Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, and Lehigh. Of the five other conference members, American, Boston University, and Loyola Maryland do not sponsor football, while Army and Navy play in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision; Army is an independent, while Navy competes as an associate member of the American Athletic Conference.
Four other private institutions are Patriot League members only for specific sports, and are referred to as associate members. Fordham University and Georgetown University are associate members in football, while MIT is an associate member in women's rowing and the University of Richmond is an associate member in women's golf.
Patriot League members are schools with very strong academic reputations that adhere strongly to the ideal of the "scholar-athlete", with the emphasis on "scholar". An academic index ensures that athletes are truly representative of and integrated with the rest of the student body. Out-of-league play for Patriot League schools is often with members of the Ivy League, which follow similar philosophies regarding academics and athletics.
Patriot League members have some of the oldest collegiate athletic programs in the country. In particular, The Rivalry between Lehigh University and Lafayette College is both the nation's most-played and longest-uninterrupted college football series.
The winner of the Patriot League basketball tournament receives an automatic invitation to the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament every March. In recent years, Bucknell (twice) and Lehigh have both won NCAA tournament games. The Patriot League champions in a number of other sports also receive an automatic invitation to their respective NCAA tournaments.
The origins of the Patriot League began after the eight Ivy League schools expanded their football schedules to ten games starting in 1980. Needing opponents with a similar competitive level on a regular basis for each team's three nonconference games, the league contacted two university presidents, the Reverend John E. Brooks, S.J., of Holy Cross, and Peter Likins of Lehigh, about forming a new conference that also prohibited athletic scholarships. The result was the Colonial League, a football-only circuit that began competition in 1986. Its six charter members were Holy Cross, Lehigh, Bucknell, Colgate, Lafayette, and Davidson. Davidson dropped out after the 1988 season for reasons related to geography, lack of competitiveness, and a reluctance to relinquish its basketball scholarships in case the conference expanded into other sports.
In 1990, the league changed its name to the Patriot League at the suggestion of Carl F. Ullrich, who would go on to become the conference's first full-time administrator. At the start of the 1990–91 academic year, the league became an all-sport conference, with 22 sports (11 for men and 11 for women), and now had seven full members, including Fordham and the United States Military Academy (Army) as new members. In 1991, the league gained an eighth full member, the United States Naval Academy (Navy).
In 1993, the league hired Constance (Connie) H. Hurlbut as executive director. She was the first woman and youngest person to be the leader of an NCAA Division I conference.
In 1995, Fordham resigned its full membership (leaving the league with seven full members) but continued as an associate member in football. In 1996, Fairfield and Ursinus joined as associate members in field hockey. (Fairfield left after the 2003 fall season and is now an associate member of the America East Conference. Ursinus left after the 2001 fall season and is now a full member of the Centennial Conference.) In 1997, Towson joined as an associate member in football. (Towson left after the 2003 fall season to join the Atlantic 10 Conference, whose football conference would be absorbed by the Colonial Athletic Association in 2007.) In 1999, Hobart joined as an associate member in men's lacrosse and Villanova joined as an associate member in women's lacrosse. (Hobart left after the 2004 spring season, to join the ECAC Lacrosse League, while Villanova left after the 2006 spring season.) In 2001, American University joined as the eighth full member and Georgetown University joined as an associate member in football. Two schools announced in summer 2012 that they would join the league for the 2013–14 academic year, with Boston University making its announcement on June 15, and Loyola University Maryland doing so on August 29.
While Patriot League colleges have always offered need-based financial aid, league members have only been allowed to give athletic scholarships in recent years. Basketball scholarships were first allowed beginning with freshmen entering the league in the fall of 1998.
In 2001, when the league admitted American, which gave scholarships in all its sports (AU does not play football), the league began allowing all schools to do so in sports other than football. Lafayette, the last holdout with no athletic scholarships, began granting full rides in basketball and other sports with freshmen entering the school in the fall of 2006. Most Patriot League schools do not give athletic scholarships in a number of sports, and Bucknell only granted them in basketball prior to the addition of football scholarships in 2013.
In the spring of 2009, Fordham University announced that it would start offering football scholarships in the fall of 2010. This action made Fordham ineligible for the league championship in that sport, but it also prompted a league-wide discussion on football scholarships. On February 13, 2012, the Patriot League announced its members could begin offering football scholarships starting with the 2013–14 academic year. Since then, each school has been allowed no more than the equivalent of 15 scholarships to incoming football players. Presidents from six of the seven football schools indicated they would award scholarships in the fall of 2012. Georgetown University did not commit to offering scholarships. Since the transition to scholarship football was completed for the 2016–17 academic year, each football member has been allowed up to 60 scholarship equivalents per season, a total only slightly lower than the NCAA limit of 63 scholarship equivalents for FCS programs.
|Alan Childs||1986–1989||Lafayette College Professor of Psychology|
|Carl F. Ullrich||1989–1993||League's first full-time Executive Director; retired|
|Connie Hurlbut||1993–1999||Western Athletic Conference Deputy Commissioner and SWA|
|Carolyn Schlie Femovich||1999–2015||The PICTOR Group Senior Partner|
|Jennifer Heppel||2015–||Previously Big Ten Conference Associate Commissioner for Governance|
There are ten "full" member schools:
|American University||Washington, D.C.||1893||2001||Private||6,028||$708,000,000||Eagles|
|United States Military Academy
|West Point, New York||1802||1990||Federal||4,686||N/A||Black Knights|
|Boston University||Boston, Massachusetts||1839||2013||Private||15,803||$2,430,000,000||Terriers|
|Bucknell University||Lewisburg, Pennsylvania||1846||1986||Private||3,650||$801,000,000||Bison|
|Colgate University||Hamilton, New York||1819||1986||Private||2,837||$908,000,000||Raiders|
|College of the Holy Cross||Worcester, Massachusetts||1843||1986||Private||3,174||$767,600,000||Crusaders|
|Lafayette College||Easton, Pennsylvania||1826||1986||Private||2,382||$693,700,000||Leopards|
|Lehigh University||Bethlehem, Pennsylvania||1865||1986||Private||5,047||$1,400,000,000||Mountain Hawks|
|Loyola University Maryland||Baltimore, Maryland||1852||2013||Private||4,068||$206,000,000||Greyhounds|
|United States Naval Academy
There are four associate-member schools:
|Nickname||Colors||Primary Conference||Patriot Sport|
|Fordham University||Bronx, New York||1841||Private||8,220||Rams||Atlantic 10||football|
|1789||Private||7,433||Hoyas||Big East||football, women's rowing|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(NCAA Division III)
|University of Richmond||Richmond, Virginia||1830||Private||3,400||Spiders||Atlantic 10||women's golf|
American, Boston, and Loyola do not play football. Army participates as an independent in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) and Navy participates in the FBS American Athletic Conference for football only. Fordham and Georgetown replace them in the Patriot League for football only.
Fordham was also a full member of the Patriot League from 1990 until 1995, when it moved all sports except football to the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Former full membersEdit
|Fordham University||Bronx, New York||1841||1990||1995||Private||8,220||Rams||Atlantic 10|
Former associate membersEdit
|Davidson College||Davidson, North Carolina||1837||1986||1989||Private||Wildcats||football||Atlantic 10 (all sports)|
|Fairfield University||Fairfield, Connecticut||1942||1996||2004||Stags||field hockey||MAAC|
|Hobart College||Geneva, New York||1822||1999||2004||Statesmen||lacrosse (m)||Liberty|
|Towson University||Towson, Maryland||1866||1997||2004||Public||Tigers||football||CAA|
|Ursinus College||Collegeville, Pennsylvania||1869||1996||2002||Private||Bears||||field hockey||Centennial|
|Villanova University||Villanova, Pennsylvania||1842||1998||2006||Wildcats||lacrosse (w)||Big East|
Full members Full members (non-football) Assoc. members (football only) Associate member(some sports)
The Patriot League sponsors championship competition in 12 men's and 13 women's NCAA-sanctioned sports. Georgetown and Fordham are Associate members for football, and Georgetown and MIT are Associate members for rowing.
|Swimming & Diving||10|
|Track and Field (Indoor)||N||9|
|Track and Field (Outdoor)||N||9|
|Swimming & Diving||10|
|Track and Field (Indoor)||10|
|Track and Field (Outdoor)||10|
- † Army and Navy play FBS football.
The Patriot League Presidents' Cup is awarded to the member institution with the highest cumulative sports point total for their Patriot League standings in sponsored men's and women's sports. Points are awarded based upon a combination of an institution's regular-season and tournament finishes in each sport.
President's Cup Winners (combined men and women):
- 1991 – Bucknell
- 1992 – Bucknell
- 1993 – Bucknell
- 1994 – Army
- 1995 – Army
- 1996 – Bucknell
- 1997 – Army
- 1998 – Bucknell
- 1999 – Bucknell
- 2000 – Bucknell
- 2001 – Bucknell
- 2002 – Bucknell
- 2003 – Bucknell
- 2004 – Bucknell
- 2005 – Army
- 2006 – Bucknell
- 2007 – Bucknell
- 2008 – Bucknell
- 2009 – Bucknell
- 2010 – Bucknell
- 2011 – Bucknell
- 2012 – Navy
- 2013 – Bucknell
- 2014 – Navy
- 2015 – Navy
- 2016 – Navy
- 2017 – Navy
- 2018 – Navy
- 2019 – Navy
- Tournament champion and MVP
- See: Patriot League Baseball Tournament
- Men's tournament champion, runner-up, and MVP
- See: Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament
- Women's tournament champion
- See: Patriot League Women's Basketball Tournament
In NCAA basketball, Boston, Bucknell, Navy, Lehigh, and Holy Cross are the only teams in the conference ever to have recorded NCAA Tournament victories. Bucknell won tournament games in 2005 over Kansas and in 2006 over Arkansas. Lehigh won over Duke in the first round in the 2012 tournament.
The Bison, Mountain Hawks, and Crusaders are the only teams to win in the NCAA Tournament while actually representing the Patriot League. A Navy team—then representing the Colonial Athletic Association—led by future Hall of Famer David Robinson won three tournament games while advancing to the regional finals in 1986, while BU won two games in the 1959 tournament before falling in the regional finals. Holy Cross was among the best teams in the country in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and won the 1947 national championship with a team that included future Hall of Famer Bob Cousy. Its combined record in the NCAA Tournament is 8–12. After a 63-year drought, Holy Cross defeated Southern University in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. Bryan Cohen of Bucknell was named Patriot League Defensive Player of Year in 2010, 2011, and 2012; he was the only player in league history to win the award three times.
- Tournament champion
- 1994 – Lehigh
- 1995 – Lafayette
- 1996 – Colgate
- 1997 – Holy Cross
- 1998 – Holy Cross
- 1999 – Lafayette
- 2000 – Holy Cross
- 2001 – Fairfield
- 2002 – Lafayette
- 2003 – American
- 2004 – American
- 2005 – American
- 2006 – American
- 2007 – American
- 2008 – American
- 2009 – American
- 2010 – American
- 2011 – Lafayette
- 2012 – Lafayette
- 2013 – American
- 2014 – Boston
- 2015 – Boston
- 2016 – American
- 2017 – Boston
- 2018 – Boston
- 2019 – American
- League champions
- 1986 – Holy Cross
- 1987 – Holy Cross
- 1988 – Lafayette
- 1989 – Holy Cross
- 1990 – Holy Cross
- 1991 – Holy Cross
- 1992 – Lafayette
- 1993 – Lehigh
- 1994 – Lafayette
- 1995 – Lehigh
- 1996 – Bucknell
- 1997 – Colgate
- 1998 – Lehigh
- 1999 – Colgate and Lehigh
- 2000 – Lehigh
- 2001 – Lehigh
- 2002 – Colgate and Fordham
- 2003 – Colgate
- 2004 – Lafayette and Lehigh
- 2005 – Colgate and Lafayette
- 2006 – Lafayette and Lehigh
- 2007 – Fordham
- 2008 – Colgate
- 2009 – Holy Cross
- 2010 – Lehigh
- 2011 – Lehigh
- 2012 – Colgate
- 2013 – Lafayette
- 2014 – Fordham
- 2015 – Colgate
- 2016 – Lehigh
- 2017 – Colgate and Lehigh
- 2018 – Colgate
- 2019 – Holy Cross
- 2020 – Holy Cross
The Patriot League prohibited athletic scholarships for football from its founding (as the Colonial League) until the league presidents voted to approve football scholarships starting with the 2013 recruiting class. Since then, each school has been allowed no more than the equivalent of 15 scholarships to incoming football players in any given season. With the transition to scholarship football having been completed in 2016, each school is now allowed a maximum of 60 scholarship equivalents per season, three short of the NCAA FCS maximum. However, Georgetown does not offer scholarships.
Until 1997, Patriot League teams did not participate in the NCAA Division I Football Championship playoffs. This practice was in step with the Ivy League's policy of not participating in the playoffs, since the Patriot League was founded with the Ivy League's athletics philosophy. Since 1997, the league champion receives an automatic playoff berth. If there are co-champions, a tie-breaker determines the playoff participant, though the other co-champion is eligible to be selected with an at-large invitation.
Colgate was the first team to receive the league's automatic berth, in 1997. The following year, Lehigh won the league's first playoff game. This was also the only year in which a Patriot League team, Colgate, received a playoff invitation without being a league co-champion.
Colgate is the only Patriot League team to survive past the second round, having done so in 2003, 2015 and 2018. The 2003 Colgate team advanced all the way to the National Championship game before falling to the University of Delaware. The 2015 Colgate team won its first and second round games, but lost in the quarterfinals to Sam Houston. In 2018, Colgate again advanced to the quarterfinals, losing to eventual champion North Dakota State.
Because the Georgetown Hoyas opted out of the 2020-21 NCAA Division I FCS football season due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Patriot League split into a north and south division for the first time. This led to the first ever Patriot League Football Championship Game
- League champions
- 1991 – Army
- 1992 – Army
- 1993 – Army
- 1994 – Army
- 1995 – Army
- 1996 – Bucknell
- 1997 – Army
- 1998 – Army
- 1999 – Army and Lehigh
- 2000 – Hobart and Lehigh
- 2001 – Bucknell
- 2002 – Army, Bucknell and Hobart
- 2003 – Army and Bucknell
- 2004 – Navy
- 2005 – Navy
- 2006 – Navy
- 2007 – Navy
- 2008 – Colgate
- 2009 – Navy
- 2010 – Army
- 2011 – Bucknell
- 2012 – Lehigh
- 2013 – Lehigh
- 2014 – Loyla
- 2015 – Colgate
- 2016 – Loyla
- 2017 – Loyla
- 2018 – Loyla
- 2019 – Army
As of 2021[update], the Army Black Knights men's lacrosse team has twelve conference championships, the most of any school in the conference. Prior to the 2004 season, no conference tournament was held to determine a single winner.
The Patriot League was profiled in the John Feinstein book, The Last Amateurs (2000). The title is derived from the belief that the Patriot League was the last Division I basketball league that plays a conference tournament (the Ivy League, which operates under the same model, albeit with no scholarships, did not hold a conference tournament until the 2016–17 season) and functions as a place for student-athletes, rather than functioning as a de facto minor professional league with players not representative of their student bodies. In it, Feinstein followed all the league's men's basketball teams during the 1999–2000 season.
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