Patriot League

The Patriot League is a collegiate athletic conference comprising private institutions of higher education and two United States service academies based in the Northeastern United States. Outside the Ivy League, it is among the most selective group of higher education institutions in NCAA Division I and has a very high student-athlete graduation rate for both the NCAA graduation success rate and the federal graduation rate.

Patriot League
DivisionDivision I
Members10 full, 4 associate
Sports fielded
  • 24
    • men's: 11
    • women's: 13
Former namesColonial League
HeadquartersCenter Valley, Pennsylvania
CommissionerJennifer Heppel (since 2015)

The Patriot League consists of 10 core members:[1] American University, the United States Military Academy (Army), Boston University, Bucknell University, Colgate University, College of the Holy Cross, Lafayette College, Lehigh University, Loyola University Maryland and the United States Naval Academy (Navy).

All 10 core members participate in the NCAA's Division I for all Patriot League sports that they offer. Since not all schools sponsor every available NCAA sport, such as ice hockey and wrestling, most schools are affiliated with other collegiate conferences.

Additionally, the Patriot League has a unique arrangement for football. Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, and Lehigh are members of the Patriot League's Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) conference. Of the five other conference members, American, Boston University and Loyola Maryland do not sponsor football while Army and Navy play in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision; Army is an independent while Navy currently competes as an associate member of the American Athletic Conference.

Four other private institutions 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 and University of Richmond is an associate member in women's golf.


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 often 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]

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 (twice) and Lehigh have both won NCAA tournament games. The Patriot League champion in a number of other sports also receives an automatic invitation to its respective NCAA tournaments.


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, lack of competitiveness, 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 at the suggestion of Carl F. Ullrich,[3] who would go on to become the conference's first full-time administrator.. 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. 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. In 1996, Fairfield and Ursinus joined as associate members in field hockey.[4] (Fairfield left after the 2003 fall season and is now an associate member of the America East Conference. Ursinus left after the 2001 fall season and is now a full member of the Centennial Conference.[6]) In 1997, Towson joined as an associate member in football. (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. (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 scholarships

While need-based financial aid has always been available, athletic scholarships have only been allowed 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. Most Patriot League schools do not give athletic scholarships in a number of sports, and Bucknell only granted them in basketball prior to the addition of football scholarships in 2013.

In the spring of 2009, Fordham University announced that it would start offering football scholarships effective with the fall of 2010. 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 2013–14 academic year. Since then, each school has been allowed no more than the equivalent of 15 scholarships to incoming football players. Since the transition to scholarship football was completed for the 2016–17 academic year, each football member has been allowed up to 60 scholarship equivalents per 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]

Executive Directors

Name Years Current
Alan Childs 19861989 Lafayette College Professor of Psychology[11]
Carl F. Ullrich 19891993 League's first full-time Executive Director; retired
Connie Hurlbut 19931999 Western Athletic Conference Deputy Commissioner and SWA[12]
Carolyn Schlie Femovich 19992015 The PICTOR Group Senior Partner[13]
Jennifer Heppel 2015 Previously Big Ten Conference Associate Commissioner for Governance[14]

Member schools

Full members

There are ten "full" member schools:[15]

Institution Location Founded Joined Type Undergraduate
Endowment Nickname Colors
American University Washington, D.C. 1893 2001 Private 6,028 $708M Eagles               
United States Military Academy
West Point, New York 1802 1990 Federal 4,686 N/A Black Knights               
Boston University Boston, MA 1839 2013 Private 15,803 $2.2B Terriers          
Bucknell University Lewisburg, Pennsylvania 1846 1986 Private 3,650 $801M Bison          
Colgate University Hamilton, New York 1819 1986 Private 2,837 $908M Raiders          
College of the Holy Cross Worcester, Massachusetts 1843 1986 Private 2,817 $1B Crusaders     
Lafayette College Easton, Pennsylvania 1826 1986 Private 2,382 $693.7M Leopards          
Lehigh University Bethlehem, Pennsylvania 1865 1986 Private 4,781 $1.1B Mountain Hawks          
Loyola University Maryland Baltimore, Maryland 1852 2013 Private 4,068 $206M Greyhounds          
United States Naval Academy
Annapolis, Maryland 1845 1991 Federal 4,400 N/A Midshipmen          

Associate members

There are four associate-member schools:

Institution Location Founded Type Undergraduate
Nickname Colors Primary Conference Patriot Sport
Fordham University Bronx, New York 1841 Private 8,220 Rams           Atlantic 10 football
Georgetown University Georgetown,
Washington, D.C.
1789 Private 7,433 Hoyas           Big East football, women's rowing
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts 1861 Private 4,384 Engineers           NEWMAC
(NCAA Division III)
women's rowing
University of Richmond Richmond, Virginia 1830 Private 3,400 Spiders           Atlantic 10 women's golf

American, Boston University, and Loyola do not play football. On the other hand, Army participates as an independent in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) and Navy participates in the American Athletic Conference for football only. Thus, Fordham and Georgetown replace them in the Patriot League for football only.

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.

Former full members

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

Former associate members

Institution Location Founded Joined Left Type Undergraduate
Nickname Primary Conference Patriot Sport
Davidson College Davidson, North Carolina 1837 1986–87 1988–89 Private 1,743 Wildcats A10 (all sports)
PFL (football)
Fairfield University Fairfield, Connecticut 1942 1996–97 2003–04 Private 4,991 Stags MAAC field hockey
Hobart College Geneva, New York 1822 1999–2000 2003–04 Private 2,110 Statesmen Liberty
(NCAA Division III)
men's lacrosse
Towson University Towson, Maryland 1866 1997–98 2003–04 Public 17,517 Tigers CAA football
Ursinus College Collegeville, Pennsylvania 1869 1996–97 2001–02 Private 1,750 Bears Centennial
(NCAA Division III)
field hockey
Villanova University Villanova, Pennsylvania 1842 1998–99 2005–06 Private 6,394 Wildcats Big East women's lacrosse

Membership timeline

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


The Patriot League sponsors championship competition in twelve men's and thirteen women's NCAA sanctioned sports.[16] Georgetown and Fordham are Associate members for football, and Georgetown and MIT are Associate members for rowing.

AmericanArmyBostonBucknellColgateHoly CrossLafayetteLehighLoyolaNavyTotal
Men's Sports
Basketball YYYYYYYYYY 10
Cross Country YYYYYYYYYY 10
Swimming & Diving YYYYYYYYYY 10
Track and Field (Indoor) YYYYYYYYNY 9
Track and Field (Outdoor) YYYYYYYYNY 9
Men's Totals 61081110111111710 95
Women's Sports
Basketball YYYYYYYYYY 10
Cross Country YYYYYYYYYY 10
Field Hockey YNYYYYYYNN 7
Lacrosse YYYYYYYYYY 10
Swimming & Diving YYYYYYYYYY 10
Track and Field (Indoor) YYYYYYYYYY 10
Track and Field (Outdoor) YYYYYYYYYY 10
Volleyball YYNYYYYYYY 9
Women's Totals 991213121311131011 113
Schools' Totals15192024222422241721208
  • † Army and Navy play FBS football.

President's Cup

The Patriot League Presidents' Cup is awarded to the member institution with the highest cumulative sports point total for their Patriot League standings in sponsored men's and women's sports. Points are awarded based upon a combination of an institution's regular-season and tournament finishes in each sport.

President's Cup Winners (combined men and women):

  • 1991 – Bucknell
  • 1992 – Bucknell
  • 1993 – Bucknell
  • 1994 – Army
  • 1995 – Army
  • 1996 – Bucknell
  • 1997 – Army
  • 1998 – Bucknell
  • 1999 – Bucknell
  • 2000 – Bucknell
  • 2001 – Bucknell
  • 2002 – Bucknell
  • 2003 – Bucknell
  • 2004 – Bucknell
  • 2005 – Army
  • 2006 – Bucknell
  • 2007 – Bucknell
  • 2008 – Bucknell
  • 2009 – Bucknell
  • 2010 – Bucknell
  • 2011 – Bucknell
  • 2012 – Navy
  • 2013 – Bucknell
  • 2014 – Navy
  • 2015 – Navy
  • 2016 – Navy
  • 2017 – Navy
  • 2018 – Navy


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 first round in the 2012 tournament.

The Bison, Mountain Hawks, and Crusaders 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 8–12. After a 63-year drought, Holy Cross defeated Southern University in the 2016 NCAA Tournament.

Field hockey

Tournament champion[17]
  • 1994 – Lehigh
  • 1995 – Lafayette
  • 1996 – Colgate
  • 1997 – Holy Cross
  • 1998 – Holy Cross
  • 1999 – Lafayette
  • 2000 – Holy Cross
  • 2001 – Fairfield
  • 2002 – Lafayette
  • 2003 – American
  • 2004 – American
  • 2005 – American
  • 2006 – American
  • 2007 – American
  • 2008 – American
  • 2009 – American
  • 2010 – American
  • 2011 – Lafayette
  • 2012 – Lafayette
  • 2013 – American
  • 2014 – Boston
  • 2015 – Boston
  • 2016 – American
  • 2017 – Boston
  • 2018 – Boston


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
  • 2013 – Lafayette
  • 2014 – Fordham
  • 2015 – Colgate
  • 2016 – Lehigh
  • 2017 – Colgate and Lehigh
  • 2018 – Colgate
  • 2019 - Holy Cross

Patriot League football was non-scholarship until the league presidents voted to approve football scholarships starting with the 2013 recruiting class. Since then, each school has been allowed no more than the equivalent of 15 scholarships to incoming football players in any given season. With the transition to scholarship football having been completed in 2016, each school is now allowed a maximum of 60 scholarship equivalents per season, three short of the NCAA FCS maximum. However, Georgetown does not offer scholarships.

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 was the first time a Patriot League team has advanced beyond the second round and played in a championship game. The 2015 Colgate team became the second Patriot League team to advance past the second round. After winning their first and second round games, they lost in the quarter-finals to Sam Houston. Colgate is the only Patriot league team to advance past the second round (2003, 2015)


School Football stadium Capacity Basketball arena Capacity Baseball stadium Capacity Soccer venue Capacity
American Non-football school Bender Arena 3,044 Non-baseball school Reeves Field 700
Army Sponsors football as an FBS Independent
Army's home football games are at Michie Stadium
38,000 Christl Arena 5,043 Johnson Stadium at Doubleday Field 880 Clinton Field 2,000
Boston Non-football school Agganis Arena
Case Gym
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 1,250
Colgate Andy Kerr Stadium 10,221 Cotterell Court 3,000 Non-baseball school Van Doren Field 2,000
Fordham Coffey Field 7,000 Football-only member
Georgetown Cooper 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 Stadium 13,132 Kirby Sports Center 2,644 Kamine Stadium 500 Oaks Stadium 1,000
Lehigh Goodman Stadium 16,000 Stabler Arena 5,600 J. David Walker Field at Legacy Park 370 Caruso Wrestling Complex 2,400
Loyola Non-football school Reitz Arena 2,100 Non-baseball school Ridley Athletic Complex 6,000
Navy Plays football in the American Athletic Conference.
Navy's home football games are at Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium
34,000 Alumni Hall 5,710 Max Bishop Stadium 1,500 Glenn Warner Soccer Facility 2,500


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 that plays a conference tournament (the Ivy League, which operates under the same model, albeit with no scholarships, did not hold a conference tournament until the 2016–17 season) and 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. ""Who We Are" About the Patriot League". Patriot League. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  2. "All the Lehigh University News First". The Brown and White.
  3. Feinstein, John (2000). The Last Amateurs. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-27842-4.
  4. "Patriot League History". Patriot League. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  5. "Patriot League 2011 Football Media Guide" (PDF).
  6. "2009 Field Hockey". Centennial Conference. Archived from the original on October 7, 2010. Retrieved March 2, 2010.
  7. "Boston University accepts invitation to join Patriot League starting in 2013–14" (PDF) (Press release). Patriot League. June 15, 2012. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  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 (February 13, 2012). "Patriot League to Offer Football Scholarships for First Time Starting 2013". Bloomberg.
  11. "2018-19 Men's Basketball Roster". Lafayette College Athletics.
  12. "Western Athletic Conference". Western Athletic Conference.
  13. "Carolyn Schlie Femovich (biography) The PICTOR Group".
  14. "Patriot League - Staff Directory".
  15. ""Who We Are" About the Patriot League". Patriot League. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  16. "Patriot League".
  17. "Patriot League Field Hockey Record Book" (PDF). Patriot League Field Hockey Record Book. Patriot League. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
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