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New DIA Conference to Shake Up College Leagues

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New DIA Conference to Shake Up College Leagues

Binghamton v Syracuse from last fall. These two, plus more, have reportedly joined the Liberty Conference. Jeff Andreasen photo.

A new three-division conference is being formed for the 2017-18 DIA college season, with an eye toward localizing certain competitions and keeping teams that want to play only in the fall together.

The working title of this conference is the Liberty Conference, and it could include anything from 17 to 20 or more teams in three divisions. The teams involved have apparently signed on because the travel and level of competition fits with them. The conference lineup looks something like this: 

Delaware, Iona, Fordham, Rutgers, Stony Brook, and one other;

Albany, Syracuse, Colgate, Binghamton, Brockport, and as many as three others;

Rhode Island, Tufts, Fairfield, Boston College, UMass, Northeastern, and UConn.

Names for the divisions are still a work in progress.

"It's very fluid right now," said conference Commissioner and Fordham Head Coach Andrew Gheraldi. "We're not completely set on who's in which division, but we're close, and we till have space for other teams moving forward. the format looks to be a couple of preseason games, five or six conference games, and some crossover games, and then finish up with a Bowl. It's exciting"

Several of these teams are DIA, and others successful DIAA teams. They come from different conferences, but the common denominators are: these colleges are used to playing each other in other sports, they are close to each other, making travel easier, and many of the coaches know each other and work well together.

As Iona Head Coach Bruce McLane, a big supporter of the idea, said, "we want to be able to take a team to the game and be home with our families on Saturday night."

Gheraldi added that another common feature of the teams involved is that they a not varsity or quasi-varsity programs; they are club teams. All will play their serious 15s in the fall, and play 7s in the spring.

The ramifications of this conference is intriguing. It essentially ends the ECRC. All but two teams - AIC and NEC - from the ECRC are now moving to the Liberty, so the ECRC is essentially ended. The Empire is also history, as almost every team from that old conference is now in the Liberty. The Rugby East will see a couple of teams (Iona and Delaware) move out and there is certainly a door open for other teams to move to the Liberty. Sources say there is room for other teams.

These Liberty Conference teams will pay dues to USA Rugby and DIA, and while all college teams have rules to follow, the teams involved have made a strong pledge to follow the eligibility rules and ensure they use only eligible students on their rosters. In addition, the conference will manage team disputes internally, using third-party mediators.

The Liberty Conference is still open for teams to join. Contact Andrew Gheraldi at if you're interested.