On Wednesday, the America East Conference released a statement regarding the 2021-22 post-season eligibility for Stony Brook University. The Seawolves announced on January 25th that they would be moving to the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in the fall for all of their 20 Division I varsity sports. Stony Brook, as well as America East members UAlbany, New Hampshire and Maine compete in the CAA for football. The CAA is considered the best FCS football conference in the country. But before they go, the Seawolves seniors and graduate student-athletes will be denied an opportunity to compete in a conference tournament and subsequently any chance of playing in an NCAA tournament.

Jay Bendlin
Jay Bendlin
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This week, the America East member Board of Presidents determined, in accordance with conference legislation, Stony Brook will be ineligible to participate in any America East Championships, effective immediately. This is not a matter that Presidents take lightly. They contemplate the implications of such a denial. According to the America East statement "At the request of Stony Brook, the Board of Presidents reconsidered this matter late last week but unanimously reaffirmed their decision to uphold Conference Constitution Article 3.4 (b), which states that upon notice of an institution’s intention to withdraw from America East, the institution’s teams become ineligible, on a date to be determined by the remaining members of the Board of Presidents, to compete for Conference championships."

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I remember when Article 3.4 (b) was enforced during the 2012-13 season. Boston University declared mid-season that it was leaving the America East to go to the Patriot League. The Terriers were forced to sit out of any championships. Like Stony Brook, Boston University was competitively very good at the time and it benefited the remaining institutions to shut them out of post-season play. It does the same here. Stony Brook is very good in men's and women's basketball, men's and women's lacrosse, baseball and softball and would certainly be competing for a conference championship and an automatic bid to their respective NCAA tournament competitions.

Jay Bendlin
Jay Bendlin
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This was a difficult decision. I understand that if Stony Brook wins the America East men's basketball tournament, number one seeded Vermont will not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The country will be listening to CBS commentators sayings something like "...and Stony Brook will be leaving the America East for the CAA in the fall..." That is hard to choke down for any member institution.

Jay Bendlin
Jay Bendlin
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However, I will leave you with this. Think about if you are a student-athlete on the Stony Brook basketball team, who has endured 2 years of COVID craziness, filled with quarantine, isolation, video classes, weird travel and testing every 2 days. You are playing your final 7 regular season games of your college career and you are fired up to make it happen in your last chance to go to the NCAA tournament, March Madness and the Big Dance. Can you picture it?

Jay Bendlin
Jay Bendlin
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Now, the powers to be at the conference, not even your university, says "it's not going to happen." You are never going to play a game in the conference in question next year, the CAA. You didn't even know your institution was going to the CAA when you finished the fall semester in December. Yet, you can't finish your collegiate career competing for a championship. You will not participate in an NCAA tournament ever again. Just food for thought. Life is tough and full of disappointments. This ban from championships will effect to varying degrees over 150 student-athletes at Stony Brook University. Given the circumstances of the past two years, I ponder the cost of such a decision. From the business standpoint for member institutions, I understand it completely.

Jay Bendlin
Jay Bendlin
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