Ithaca College athletics will transfer to the Liberty League as a full-time member by the 2018–19 academic year after 16 years in the Empire 8 conference.
The Bombers originally joined the Independent College Athletic Conference in 1971 before it became the Empire 8 in 1999. The college has captured 15 team titles as well as 31 individual championships as a member of the Empire 8, including most recently a title in volleyball last fall.
“The Empire 8 has also been a great league, but everyone is excited about the change,” Hailey Adler, freshman volleyball player, said.
They will become the 11th full time member of the Liberty League, joining Bard College, Clarkson University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, St. Lawrence University, Skidmore College, Union College and Vassar College.
“The Liberty League is an impressive association of academic institutions with a common commitment to the educational benefits created through participation in intercollegiate competition,” Susan Bassett, Ithaca’s director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Recreational Sports, said on the athletics website.
The Bombers regularly compete against teams in the Liberty League during their non-conference schedules. Now, they will play them regularly throughout their regular and postseasons.
“I think it will definitely be more competitive. There are a lot of great teams in the Liberty League, and it would be great to get to play against them during the normal season,” Adler said.
The Liberty League was originally chartered as the Upstate Collegiate Athletic Association in 1995, before changing its name to the Liberty League in 2004. The league was founded upon placing academics before sports and ensuring that student-athletes successfully complete their academic programs.
The Bombers place a high emphasis on academics and had over 150 athletes and 19 teams on the Empire 8’s President’s List for the spring semester. A 3.75 GPA or higher while participating on a varsity sports team is required to be on this list.
The league sponsors championships in 26 sports, 13 for women and 13 for men. All of the Bombers sports teams, except for gymnastics and wrestling, will compete in the Liberty League.
“I think that it will be an interesting change, a lot different from what we are used to,” Heidi Mickunas, sophomore women’s swimming and diving member, said.