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Little East Conference History

Membership History | Sport Expansion History | All-Time LEC Staff and Volunteers

The Little East Conference was established on April 28, 1986 as a single sport league by six public institutions located throughout New England.  The LEC member men’s and women’s basketball teams commenced play in 1986-87 with double round-robin regular season and six-team championship tournament.  The Little East Conference has since become a multi-sport league with nine primary members, six affiliate members and 19 championships. 

The Little East Conference's primary members are Castleton University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Keene State College, UMass Boston, UMass Dartmouth, Plymouth State University, Rhode Island College, University of Southern Maine and Western Connecticut State University. 

“Little East” Genesis:

Plymouth, N.H. - Fahey said the name Little East was suggested by former Plymouth State Assistant Coach Darryll White.  Fahey said the name was cleared with the Big East Conference before it was announced.  “(Big East publicist) Tom McElroy said they were flattered”, Fahey said.  “He said, ‘You could have called it the Little Atlantic 10.’”

-Jay Spiegel, Bulletin Sports Editor, "ECSU Joins New Conference for Basketball", 4/28/86 


Early September, 1984 (in conjunction with New England Collegiate Athletic Conference meeting):  Mary Barrett (Assoc. AD, UMass Boston) and William Holowatty (AD, ECSU), discuss the concept of a New England regional basketball league in order to secure automatic bids to the NCAA Division III Men’s & Women’s Basketball Tournaments.  Concurrently, Charlie Titus (AD, UMass Boston) is exploring the concept of a Massachusetts regional basketball league. 

Early October, 1984, Pancake House – Hyannis, MA:  At the invitation of UMass Boston AD Charlie Titus, five New England Division III institutions meet to discuss the viability of the concept.  In attendance are the athletic directors of Eastern Connecticut State University, UMass Boston, Rhode Island College, Southeastern Massachusetts University (UMass Dartmouth), University of Southern Maine as well as Mary Barrett (Assoc. AD, UMass Boston).  Historical context is provided about the New England Small College Conference, which predated institutional moves to the NAIA and the NCAA federated (Div. I, II, III) structure. 

10/31/84 - UMass Boston:  At the invitation of UMass Boston AD Charlie Titus, 14 New England Division III athletic directors are invited to attend an interest meeting, including:  Babson College, Brandeis University, Clark University, Eastern Connecticut State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Norwich University, Plymouth State College, Rhode Island College, UMass Boston, University of Southern Maine, Southeastern Massachusetts University (UMass Dartmouth), Suffolk University, Tufts University and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Nine institutions attend and it’s determined the concept will move forward as a basketball only league (initially). 

6/5/85, Plymouth State College:  At the invitation of Plymouth State College AD John P. Clark, eight New England institutions are invited to further explore the concept, including Eastern Connecticut State University, UMass Boston, Norwich University, Rhode Island College, Roger Williams, Southeastern Massachusetts University and University of Southern Maine. 

9/8/85, Marriott Hotel – Newton, MA (in conjunction with ECAC Convention):  Six New England public institutions commit to the establishment of Little East Conference Men’s and Women’s Basketball league with a double round-robin format and championship.  The founding members will be Eastern Connecticut State University, University of Massachusetts Boston, Southeastern Massachusetts University (UMass Dartmouth), Plymouth State College (Plymouth State University), Rhode Island College and University of Southern Maine. 

9/30/85, Sheraton-Regal Inn, Hyannis, MA:  The Little East Conference draft constitution is reviewed, with suggested revisions.  The league’s first officers are elected, Commissioner (Richard A. Costello, University of Southern Maine) and Secretary-Treasurer (William Baird, Rhode Island College).  It is determined the Commissioner’s institution will provide the publicist.  Thus, Al Bean (University of Southern Maine) is selected to serve as the league’s first publicist. 

3/20/86, UMass Boston:  Founding member Athletic Directors, Men’s and Women’s Basketball Coaches and Sports Information Directors suggest further constitution revisions, and the 1986-87 schedule format is finalized. 

4/28/86, Hyannis, MA (in conjunction with ECAC meeting):  The constitution is accepted and the Little East Conference is officially established.


30 Years of the Little East Conference (1986-2016)

The Little East Conference celebrated its 30th Anniversary of NCAA athletic competition by releasing 30 top LEC moments in its history and honored 30 of the league’s most influential members since the league’s inception in 1986. The full archive of featured contect can by found by CLICKING HERE.

Organizational Status

  • 1986-99:  Institutional volunteer Commissioner, Treasurer/Secretary and Publicist handle LEC operations.
  • 2000-08:  LEC hires first full-time employee, office operates of out Fairfield, CT.
  • 2008-14:  LEC office operates of out UMass Dartmouth Public Policy Center.
    • 2012 revised constitution establishes Presidents Council with a three-member Executive Committee and Athletic Directors Council with a four-member Executive Committee (Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer, Vice-Treasurer).
  • 2015-Present:  LEC office operates of out Hope Artiste Village, Pawtucket, RI.