MAAC announces changes to scheduling policy

Iona's Ibn Muhammad (3) drives to the hoop against Monmouth's  Justin Robinson (12) during the first half of the MAAC conference tournament finals at Times Union Center. (Photo: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)
Iona’s Ibn Muhammad (3) drives to the hoop against Monmouth’s Justin Robinson (12) during the first half of the MAAC conference tournament finals at Times Union Center. (Photo: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports)

Courtesy of MAACSports.com

The MAAC Council of President has approved sweeping changes to the league’s basketball scheduling in a reaffirmation that basketball remains the core MAAC Sport of Emphasis in the 11-team league. The revised policies include the following:

Effective with the start of the 2017-18 season conference schedule will use an 18-game format with a Group A comprised of the pre-season top 4 projected teams, a Group B composed of the next 3 ranked teams, and a Group C comprised of the remaining 4 teams. There will be no full double round of competition, instead each team will play 9 opponents once at home and 9 opponents once away. Other major changes:

· The top 7 ranked MAAC teams must play non-conference games against opponents ranked in top 250 ranking of the 3-Year or 5-Year Average Winning Percentage. The bottom 4 schools have no non-conference scheduling restrictions.
· The groups will be determined annually by June 1 of each year by the MAAC staff using a mix of projected pre-season polls, a coach’s poll, and input from athletic administrators. The Commissioner will be the final arbitrator of the Group A, B and C team selections if no consensus is achieved through the ranking processes.
· For non-conference scheduling, a model was approved which focuses on the winning percentage of non-conference opponent. It is a shift from previous MAAC regulations that focused on RPI rankings. The model requires that the top 7 ranked MAAC teams must play non-conference games against opponents ranked in top 250 ranking of the 3-Year or 5-Year NCAA Division I Average Winning Percentage. The bottom 4 schools have no restrictions.
· The non-conference scheduling requirements allow MAAC programs two options – a 3 or 5 year winning percentage for opponents, broadening the pool of teams for non-conference scheduling. While providing some flexibility, the 3 or 5 year options maintain a focus that the strongest MAAC schools compete against teams with winning records, while allowing teams in a rebuilding mode to compete against any Division I program.
· Conference members seeking to host the annual MAAC Tournament in a neutral or home facility must play at least one conference game for two years in the facility for the league to gauge local fan interest, fan travel patterns and the suitability of the facility to host the championships per league standards as outlined in the RFP for the event.
· Except for Multi Team Exempt Events (MTEs), member institutions should not schedule more than 2 away guarantee games. A third road guarantee game may be played if the guarantee funds generated by the game are dedicated to the MAAC school buying a home guarantee game that requires no reciprocal return game against the opponent.

The goal of the scheduling policy is to initiate standards which will increase the conference’s national Rating Percentage Index (RPI) and Strength of Schedule (SOS) and promote member school’s abilities to receive at-large qualification to the NCAA and NIT and high seeding placements in those championships.

In related business, the presidents approved a requirement that all MAAC members have ESPN School Production Facilities operational by the 2019/20 fiscal year and that the MAAC will provide production stipends to each school to produce up to 30 men’s and women’s basketball productions yearly. Currently four schools, Canisius, Fairfield, Iona and Monmouth have such facilities.

The MAAC presidents also received a status report on the development of a standards document for basketball. The ongoing discussions about enhancing the position of MAAC basketball continues with the strategic planning group focused on finalizing the document and also presenting a draft RFP for the 2020-22 MAAC Basketball Championships bidding process. These reports will be presented to the MAAC Council of Presidents at their June 1 meeting.

In other Council business, the contract of Commissioner Rich Ensor was extended through June 30, 2020.

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