Patriot League
DivisionDivision I FCS
Members8 full, (10 in 2013); 3 associate
Sports fielded23 (men's: 11; women's: 12)
Former namesColonial League
HeadquartersCenter Valley, Pennsylvania
CommissionerCarolyn S. Femovich (since 1999)

The Patriot League is a college athletic conference comprising private institutions of higher education and two United States service academies based in the Northeast United States. Outside of the Ivy League, it is the most selective group of higher education institutions in Division I and has the second highest student-athlete graduation rate following the Ivy League.

The Patriot League consists of eight core members:[1] American University, United States Military Academy (Army), Bucknell University, Colgate University, College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, and the United States Naval Academy (Navy).

All eight core members participate in the NCAA's Division I for all sports. Since not all Patriot League schools sponsor every available NCAA sport, such as ice hockey, several schools are affiliated with other collegiate conferences. Additionally, the Patriot League has a unique arrangement for football. Army and Navy are Independents in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), while Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, and Lehigh are members of the Patriot League’s Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conference. American does not sponsor football.

There are three private institutions that are Patriot League members only for specific sports and are referred to as ‘Patriot League associate members.’ Fordham University and Georgetown University are associate members in football, while MIT is an associate member in women’s rowing.

Boston University and Loyola University Maryland will join the league as core members for the 2013-14 academic year. Neither school sponsors football.



Patriot League members are schools with very strong academic reputations that adhere strongly to the ideal of the "scholar-athlete", with the emphasis on "scholar". An academic index ensures that athletes are truly representative of and integrated with the rest of the student body. Out-of-league play for Patriot League schools is typically with members of the Ivy League, which follow similar philosophies regarding academics and athletics.

Patriot League members have some of the oldest collegiate athletic programs in the country. In particular, The Rivalry between Lehigh University and Lafayette College is both the nation's most played and longest uninterrupted college football series.[2] Similarly, matchups between Army and Navy in any sport are always intense.

The winner of the Patriot League Basketball tournament receives an automatic invitation to the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament every March. In recent years, Bucknell and Lehigh have both won NCAA tournament games.


The origins of the Patriot League began after the eight Ivy League schools each expanded its football schedules to ten games starting in 1980. Needing opponents with a similar competitive level on a regular basis for each teams' three nonconference games, the league contacted two university presidents, the Reverend John E. Brooks, S.J. of Holy Cross and Peter Likins of Lehigh, about the formation of a new conference that also prohibited athletic scholarships.[3] The result was the Colonial League, a football-only circuit that began competition in 1986.[1][4] Its six charter members were Holy Cross, Lehigh, Bucknell, Colgate, Lafayette and Davidson, which dropped out after the 1988 season for reasons related to geography and a reluctance to relinquish its basketball scholarships in case the conference expanded into other sports.[3][5]

In 1990, the league changed its name to the Patriot League.[4] At the start of the 1990-91 academic year, the league became an all-sport conference, with 22 sports (11 for men and 11 for women), and now had seven full members, including Fordham and the United States Military Academy (Army) as new members.[4] In 1991, the league gained an eighth full member — the United States Naval Academy (Navy).[4]

In 1993, the league hired Constance (Connie) H. Hurlbut as executive director. She was the first woman and youngest person to be the leader of an NCAA Division I conference.[4]

In 1995, Fordham resigned its full membership (leaving the league with seven full members) but continued as an associate member in football.[4] In 1996, Fairfield and Ursinus joined as associate members in field hockey.[4] (Fairfield left after the 2003 fall season, who is now an associate member of the America East Conference. Ursinus left after the 2001 fall season, who is now a full member of the Centennial Conference.[6]) In 1997, Towson joined as an associate member in football.[4] (Towson left after the 2003 fall season to join the Atlantic 10 Conference, whose football conference would be absorbed by the Colonial Athletic Association in 2007.) In 1999, Hobart joined as an associate member in men's lacrosse and Villanova joined as an associate member in women's lacrosse.[4] (Hobart left after the 2004 spring season, to join the ECAC Lacrosse League, while Villanova left after the 2006 spring season.) In 2001, American University joined as the eighth full member and Georgetown University joined as an associate member in football.[4] Two schools announced in summer 2012 that they would join the league for the 2013–14 academic year, with Boston University making its announcement on June 15[7] and Loyola University Maryland doing so on August 29.[8]

Athletic ScholarshipsEdit

While financial aid has always been available, athletic scholarships have only been given in recent years at Patriot League schools. Basketball scholarships were first allowed beginning with freshmen entering the league in the fall of 1998. In 2001, when American, which gave scholarships in all sports (AU does not play football) entered the league, the league began allowing all schools to do so in sports other than football. Lafayette, the last no athletic scholarships holdout, began granting full rides in basketball and other sports with freshmen entering the school in the fall of 2006.

In the fall of 2010, Fordham University announced that it would start offering football scholarships. While this action made Fordham ineligible for the league championship, it did open up the question of football scholarships. On February 13, 2012, the Patriot League announced they would begin offering football scholarships. Starting with the 2013 academic year, each school will be allowed no more than the equivalent of 15 scholarships to incoming football players, according to the release. The total number of scholarships can’t exceed 60 in any season,[9] a total only slightly lower than the NCAA limit of 63 scholarship equivalents for FCS programs.

Presidents from six of the seven football schools indicated they would award scholarships in the fall of 2012. Georgetown University did not commit to offer scholarships.[10]

Member schoolsEdit


Full membersEdit

There are eight "full" member schools:[1]

Institution Location Nickname Colors Founded Type Undergraduate
American University Washington, D.C. Eagles American Red & Blue
1893 Private 6,028 2001
United States Military Academy
West Point, New York Black Knights Black, Gray & Gold
1802 Government Institution 4,487 1990
Bucknell University Lewisburg, Pennsylvania Bison Orange & Blue
1846 Private 3,650 1986
Colgate University Hamilton, New York Raiders Maroon & White
1819 Private 2,837 1986
College of the Holy Cross Worcester, Massachusetts Crusaders Purple & White
1843 Private 2,817 1986
Lafayette College Easton, Pennsylvania Leopards Maroon & White
1826 Private 2,382 1986
Lehigh University Bethlehem, Pennsylvania Mountain Hawks Brown & White
1865 Private 4,781 1986
United States Naval Academy
Annapolis, Maryland Midshipmen Navy Blue & Gold
1845 Government Institution 4,400 1991

Associate membersEdit

There are three associate-member schools:

Institution Location Nickname Colors Founded Type Undergraduate
Primary Conference Patriot Sport
Fordham University Bronx, New York Rams Maroon & White
1841 Private 8,220 Atlantic 10 (A-10) football
Georgetown University Georgetown,
Washington, D.C.
Hoyas Blue & Gray
1789 Private 7,433 Big East football
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts Engineers Cardinal Red & Steel Gray
1861 Private 4,384 NEWMAC
(NCAA Division III)
women's rowing

American does not play football, while Army and Navy participate as Independents in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A). Thus, Fordham and Georgetown replace them in the Patriot League for football only.

The Fordham Rams are ineligible for the Patriot League title in football from 2010 through 2012 because they offered athletic scholarships in that sport prior to the League implementation of limited scholarships in 2013.[11] Fordham was also a full member of the Patriot League from 1990 until 1995 when they moved all sports except football to the Atlantic 10 Conference.

Future full membersEdit

Institution Location Nickname Colors Founded Type Undergraduate
Year Joining
Boston University Boston, MA Terriers Scarlet & White
1839 Private 15,977 2013
Loyola University Maryland Baltimore, MD Greyhounds Green & Gray
1852 Private 3,901 2013

Former full membersEdit

Institution Location Nickname Founded Type Undergraduate
Joined Left Current Conference
Fordham University Bronx, New York Rams 1841 Private 8,220 1990 1995 Atlantic 10 (A-10)

Former associate membersEdit

Institution Location Nickname Founded Type Undergraduate
Joined Left Primary Conference Patriot Sport
Davidson College Davidson, North Carolina Wildcats 1837 Private 1,743 1986-97 1988-89 SoCon (all sports)
PFL (football)
Fairfield University Fairfield, Connecticut Stags 1942 Private 3,500 1996-97 2003-04 MAAC field hockey
Hobart College Geneva, New York Statesmen 1822 Private 2,110 1999-2000 2003-04 Liberty
(NCAA Division III)
men's lacrosse
Towson University Towson, Maryland Tigers 1866 Public 17,517 1997-98 2003-04 CAA football
Ursinus College Collegeville, Pennsylvania Bears 1869 Private 1,750 1996-97 2001-02 Centennial
(NCAA Division III)
field hockey
Villanova University Villanova, Pennsylvania Wildcats 1842 Private 6,394 1998-99 2005-06 Big East women's lacrosse

Membership timelineEdit

Loyola University MarylandBoston UniversityMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyGeorgetown UniversityAmerican UniversityHobart and William Smith CollegesVillanova UniversityTowson UniversityFairfield UniversityUrsinus CollegeUnited States Naval AcademyUnited States Military AcademyFordham UniversityLehigh UniversityLafayette CollegeCollege of the Holy CrossColgate UniversityBucknell UniversityDavidson College

Full members Full members (non-football) Assoc. members (football only) Associate member(some sports)

  • Fairfield and Ursinus—associate members in field hockey
  • Hobart—associate member in men's lacrosse
  • Villanova—associate member in women's lacrosse
  • MIT—associate member in women's rowing


The Patriot League sponsors championship competition in twelve men's and thirteen women's NCAA sanctioned sports.[12] Georgetown and Fordham are Associate members for football, and MIT is an Associate member for rowing.

Teams in Patriot League competition
Cross Country
Field Hockey
Swimming & Diving
Track and Field (Indoor)
Track and Field (Outdoor)


Men's tournament champion, runner-up, and MVP
See: Patriot League Men's Basketball Tournament
Women's tournament champion
See: Patriot League Women's Basketball Tournament

In NCAA basketball, Bucknell, Navy, Lehigh, and Holy Cross are the only teams in the conference ever to have recorded NCAA Tournament victories. Bucknell won tournament games in 2005 over Kansas and in 2006 over Arkansas. Lehigh won over Duke in the 2012 tournament.

The Bison and Mountain Hawks are the only teams to win in the NCAA Tournament while actually representing the Patriot League. A Navy team—then representing the Colonial Athletic Association—led by future Hall of Famer David Robinson won three tournament games while advancing to the regional finals in 1986. Holy Cross was among the best teams in the country in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and won the 1947 national championship with a team that included Hall of Famer Bob Cousy. Its combined record in the NCAA Tournament is 7–12. However, Holy Cross has not won a tournament game since 1953.

Field hockeyEdit

Tournament champion[13]


League champions
  • 1986 Holy Cross
  • 1987 Holy Cross
  • 1988 Lafayette
  • 1989 Holy Cross
  • 1990 Holy Cross
  • 1991 Holy Cross
  • 1992 Lafayette
  • 1993 Lehigh
  • 1994 Lafayette
  • 1995 Lehigh
  • 1996 Bucknell
  • 1997 Colgate
  • 1998 Lehigh
  • 1999 Colgate and Lehigh
  • 2000 Lehigh
  • 2001 Lehigh
  • 2002 Colgate and Fordham
  • 2003 Colgate
  • 2004 Lafayette and Lehigh
  • 2005 Colgate and Lafayette
  • 2006 Lafayette and Lehigh
  • 2007 Fordham
  • 2008 Colgate
  • 2009 Holy Cross
  • 2010 Lehigh
  • 2011 Lehigh
  • 2012 Colgate

Patriot League football was non-scholarship until the league presidents voted to approve football scholarships starting with the 2013 recruiting class. Each school will be allowed no more than the equivalent of 15 scholarships to incoming football players. The total number of scholarship equivalents cannot exceed 60 in any season, three short of the NCAA FCS maximum.

Until 1997, Patriot League teams did not participate in the NCAA Division I Football Championship playoffs. The policy was in step with the Ivy League's policy of not participating in the playoffs since the Patriot League was founded with the Ivy League's athletics philosophy. The league champion receives the automatic playoff berth. If there are co-champions, a tie-breaker determines the playoff participant.

Colgate was the first team to receive the league's automatic berth in 1997. The following year, Lehigh won the league's first playoff game. It is also the only year where a Patriot League team, Colgate, received a playoff invitation without being a league co-champion. The 2003 Colgate team advanced all the way to the National Championship game before falling to the University of Delaware. It is the only time a Patriot League team has advanced beyond the second round and played in a championship game.


School Football stadium Capacity Basketball arena Capacity Baseball stadium Capacity Soccer venue Capacity
American Non-football school Bender Arena 4,500 Non-baseball school Reeves Field 700
Army Sponsors football as an FBS Independent Christl Arena 5,043 Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field 880 Clinton Field 2,000
Boston U Non-football school Agganis Arena/Case Gym 7,200/1,800 Non-baseball school Nickerson Field 10,412
Bucknell Christy Mathewson–Memorial Stadium 13,100 Sojka Pavilion 4,000 Eugene B. Depew Field 500 Emmitt Field at Holmes Stadium 1,200
Colgate Andy Kerr Stadium 10,221 Cotterell Court 3,000 Non-baseball school Van Doren Field 2,000
Fordham Coffey Field 8,000 Football-only member
Georgetown Multi-Sport Field 2,500 Football-only member
Holy Cross Fitton Field 23,500 Hart Center 3,600 Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field 3,000 Linda Johnson Smith Soccer Stadium 1,320
Lafayette Fisher Field at Fisher Stadium 13,132 Kirby Sports Center 3,500 Kamine Stadium 1,000 Oaks Stadium 1,000
Lehigh Goodman Stadium 16,000 Stabler Arena 5,600 Lehigh Baseball Field N/A Ulrich Sports Complex 2,400
Loyola Non-football school Reitz Arena 3,000 Non-baseball school Ridley Athletic Complex 6,000
Navy Sponsors football as an FBS Independent Alumni Hall 5,710 Max Bishop Stadium 1,500 Glenn Warner Soccer Facility 2,500

Note: Future members in gray.


The Patriot League was profiled in the John Feinstein book, The Last Amateurs. The title is derived from the belief that the Patriot League was the last Division I basketball league which functions as a place for student-athletes, rather than functioning as a de facto minor professional league with players not representative of their student bodies. In it, Feinstein followed all the league's men's basketball teams during the 1999–2000 season.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Who We Are" About the Patriot League: Patriot League - Who We Are, What We Believe, What We Do. Patriot League official website. Retrieved 2010-03-01.
  2. The Brown and White, Lehigh University Student Newspaper
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Feinstein, John. The Last Amateurs. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 2000.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Patriot League History. Patriot League official website. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  5. Patriot League 2011 Football Media Guide.
  6. 2009 Field Hockey. Centennial Conference official website. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  7. "Boston University accepts invitation to join Patriot League starting in 2013–14," Patriot League press release, Friday, June 15, 2012.
  8. "Loyola University Maryland accepts invitation to join Patriot League starting with 2013-14 season" (Press release). Patriot League. August 29, 2012. Retrieved August 30, 2012.
  9. Novy-Williams, Eben (2012-02-13). "Patriot League to Offer Football Scholarships for First Time Starting 2013". Bloomberg.
  11. Fordham to Add Athletic Scholarships in Football ,
  13. "Patriot League Field Hockey Record Book". Patriot League Field Hockey Record Book. Patriot League. Retrieved 15 June 2012.

External linksEdit

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