ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca College is pleased to announce that, after a rigorous selection process, its athletics program has been accepted into the Liberty League as the conference's newest member.
Ithaca's move to the Liberty League will occur no later than the 2018-19 academic year, as the Bombers become the conference's 11th full-member institution. Ithaca student-athletes will compete in 24 of the Liberty League's 26 championship sports except men's golf and squash.
Ithaca College, which has won 15 NCAA Division III team national championships to go with 31 individual national champions, has a rich tradition of producing student-athletes who achieve success not only in their chosen sport, but also in the classroom and the community.
That balance of academic and athletic success is a big reason why the Bombers were extended an invitation to join the Liberty League, according to Tracy King, the conference's commissioner.
"I am excited to welcome Ithaca College as our newest Liberty League full-member institution," said King. "IC is an outstanding academic institution with a distinguished history of success as an NCAA Division III member. The addition of IC will strengthen our Liberty League membership and will enhance the competitive opportunities for our student-athletes."
According to King, the Liberty League member institutions place the highest priority on the overall quality of the educational experience and on the successful completion of its student-athletes' academic programs, a trait shared by Ithaca College.
Current Liberty League full members include Bard College, Clarkson University, Hobart & William Smith Colleges, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. Lawrence University, Skidmore College, Union College and Vassar College.
"The member institutions of the Liberty League share IC's commitment to a broad vision of educational excellence that spans academic and co-curricular experiences," said Tom Rochon, Ithaca College President. "Educationally and athletically, we look forward to joining these distinguished peers."
Additionally, Liberty League member institutions seek to establish and maintain an environment in which a student-athlete's athletic activities are conducted as an integral part of the educational experience.
"The academic prestige and athletic accomplishments of the Liberty League members are in line with the educational and athletic environment here at Ithaca College," said Barb Belyea, clinical professor of physical therapy and Ithaca's Faculty Athletic Representative. "I am excited for our student-athletes to be able to participate at this caliber of competition and carry on the tradition of Bomber excellence."
"The Liberty League is an impressive association of academic institutions with a common commitment to the educational benefits created through participation in intercollegiate competition," said Susan Bassett '79, Ithaca's Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports.
"Ithaca College embraces the philosophical tenets of the league and the commitment to the scholar-athlete ideal upon which it was founded. Our coaches and student-athletes look forward to the opportunity to compete in the Liberty League."
Ithaca, which currently is a member of the Empire 8 Conference, has a history with many of the current Liberty League institutions. Additionally, many Bomber teams currently compete against Liberty League schools during the non-conference portion of their schedules.
The Empire 8 evolved from the Independent College Athletic Conference and Empire Athletic Association. Ithaca joined the ICAC in 1971 along with current Liberty League members Clarkson, Hobart, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, RIT, and St. Lawrence.
"Our entry to the Liberty League reconnects IC with some of the schools we used to compete with, and our alumni will enjoy renewing cherished rivalries. Yet, our departure from the Empire 8 is bittersweet," said Bassett. "As a founding member of the Empire 8, we have shared strong partnerships with our colleagues. We hold the Empire 8 Commissioner, Chuck Mitrano, and all of the member institutions in high regard. We look forward to continued competition with Empire 8 institutions, regardless of conference membership, for years to come."
The Liberty League sponsors championships in 26 sports – 13 each for women and men. Liberty League champions receive automatic bids to NCAA Division III championships in 16 different sports.
About Ithaca College Athletics
Ithaca College currently sponsors 27 varsity sports – 15 for women and 12 for men.
The women's sports are: basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, gymnastics, lacrosse, rowing, sculling, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, volleyball, and indoor and outdoor track and field.
The men's sports include: baseball, basketball, cross country, football, lacrosse, rowing, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, wrestling, and indoor and outdoor track and field.