During the 2016–17 athletic year, the Bombers dominated the Empire 8 Conference. The Blue and Gold won 11 of the league’s 23 championships and were runners-up in three others. This type of dominance showed the Bombers were a cut above the competition in the Empire 8.
After this show of pre-eminence, this year will be the Bombers’ first in the Liberty League. The Liberty League will present new challenges for the college. Unlike the Empire 8, the Liberty League has national-title contenders in almost every sport. From the highly ranked Hobart College football team to the Skidmore College field hockey team, which advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals last year, a higher level of competition will be consistent throughout the league.
While this level of competition may cause the college’s athletic success to falter this year, in the long run being in a more competitive conference should be good for the Bombers. Competing in a league with more formidable opponents allows the South Hill squad to rise to the occasion. While success may be more elusive for major men’s sports such as basketball and football, Liberty League coaches predicted that the college’s women’s volleyball team would take the championship title its first year in the conference in their preseason coaches poll.
In addition to offering a more competitive opportunity for the Bomber athletic programs, the Liberty League has also been described by our athletic administrators as a better fit academically. Not including the college’s average SAT score of 1270, all of the schools in the Liberty League average at 1339, and those in the Empire 8 average at 1103, as previously reported by The Ithacan. Competing against schools that are more academically competitive will allow the college to better recruit more academically successful students. Coaches already say they are seeing more interest from recruits due to the move to the Liberty League.
No matter what happens during the 2017–18 athletic year, whether the Bombers fail to win a conference title — which won’t happen — or they dominate at the same levels as they did in the Empire 8, being in a conference that lines up with the college’s athletic and academic prowess will help the college’s esteem and recruitment of high-quality student-athletes.