Keuka College’s move to the Empire 8 Conference is still more than a year away, but interest and enthusiasm are building already.
Several dozen Keuka alumni recently turned out at the Ridgemont Country Club in Greece to hear officials map out plans for the college’s transition into the New York-based athletics conference.
“We were thrilled to see alumni from many different generations come together to celebrate Keuka College’s invitation to the Empire 8 and envision the future of the college’s athletics program,” said Pete Bekisz, associate vice president for advancement and external affairs.
Dave Sweet, director of athletics; Jeff Bray, associate athletic director/head athletic trainer; and Jon Accardi, associate director of athletics for facilities and operations, joined Bekisz in outlining the college’s preparations as it takes steps to bow out of its longtime athletics home, the North Eastern Athletic Conference, to join the Empire 8 in the 2020-21 academic year.
Keuka intends to raise more than $1.6 million to renovate locker rooms, enhance its weight room and strength center, and bring enhanced live-streaming to the Jephson Community Athletic Complex, among other revisions
Sweet reiterated the college’s continuing excitement about the move, which was announced in February 2019.
“The Empire 8 invitation is recognition of the incredible level of achievement our student-athletes attain, both on and off the field,” he said.
The crowd at the country club included tables of alumni from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s.
“We didn’t know what to expect, so we’re absolutely thrilled with the turnout,” said alumnus Marc Misiurewicz, of Greece, who hosted the event.
The selection of a Greece country club for the kickoff event was intentional. With Empire 8 rivals to include Nazareth and St. John Fisher colleges, Rochester alumni will have the opportunity to attend nearby games.
“The NEAC has been great to us, but we play a lot of games at colleges out of state,” Accardi said. “In the Empire 8, not only will we have more of a fan base, but our student-athletes won’t have to spend so much time on the road.”
Keuka will become the ninth full member of the Empire 8, joining Nazareth, St. John Fisher, Utica, Houghton, Alfred University, Elmira, Hartwick and the Sage colleges. Keuka currently sponsors 22 varsity teams. Visit keukaathletics.com for information.