America East

America East Basketball News & Notes: New Commissioner at Media Day

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This week the America East Conference kicked off the 2020-21 basketball season with Media Day. Day one featured the women’s coaches, while day two took care of the men. Before any of the coaches had a chance to talk about their teams or the league, the new conference commissioner started things off. His name is Brad Walker, who comes to America East from the NBA G League where he was the Vice President and head of basketball operations. Walker becomes the fifth commissioner in the league’s 42-year history. He also brings plenty of college experience to the job serving for over 15 years at the NCAA Division 1 level with a pair of conferences, the Ohio Valley and the West Coast. In both leagues, Walker was the associate commissioner.

 

Walker also spent some time with the women’s game. He was a member of the NCAA Division 1 women’s basketball committee and the Division 1 championship/sports management committee. He is a 1996 graduate of Bentley University with a degree in marketing. He was a four-year contributor to the men’s basketball program. The captain of the team during his senior season earning all-conference honors. His familiarity with the roundball game in the northeast should serve him well in his new role.

 

He has been on the job for five weeks and during that time he has had the chance to visit six of the nine schools that make up the league. He does plan to visit the other three before too long. What he has seen so far he likes and that is the commitment every school has shown both on and off the court. He has already received good support from the presidents. However, there are challenges ahead for the commissioner that will need to be addressed. The first will be the departure of Hartford University before the 2025 season begins. At that point, the league would be down to eight schools. He was asked if the league was looking to add another school to take Hartford’s spot in the conference. His reply was “we are going to keep our ears open.” For now, he feels pretty good with the nine-school setup he has taken over. He did say that the Hartford situation “would be looked at over next summer.” At that time, any changes to the schedules would be discussed.

 

He also talked about the transfer portal and by all accounts, he is a fan of it. He believes it gives programs a chance “to get better quicker” by adding players that have more experience. There are some schools in the league that have taken advantage of the transfer portal and Hartford is one that comes to mind. It could be said that transfers were a big reason why the Hawks became a force in the league the last couple of seasons.

 

The main focus for Walker in the early stages of his tenure with the league will be to give the basketball programs on both the men’s and women’s side a better shot when selection days for the NCAA tournament arrive. Both schools that made last year’s events were #16 seeds Hartford on the men’s side and Stony Brook on the women’s end of things. Helping these teams to get better non-conference matchups and a better television deal will go a long way toward giving the America East a better shot come selection Sunday and Monday.

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