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Atlantic 10 Conference History

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On March 2, 1975, eight university representatives met in Harrisburg, PA, to discuss the formation of a new collegiate basketball association. A similar meeting was also held on May 23 of that year, with the final formation of the Eastern Collegiate Basketball League announced on August 13, 1975. The NCAA granted allied affiliation status upon the ECBL on October 15, 1975, and granted the league an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament on June 17, 1976.

The ECBL began operation at the start of the 1976-77 season with Duquesne, George Washington, Massachusetts, Penn State, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Villanova, and West Virginia as its charter members. Several changes happened quickly in the ECBL, the first coming in 1977-78 when the league changed its name to the Eastern Athletic Association - better known as the Eastern 8 - to reflect its changing mission. That year, the Eastern 8 became more than a basketball league as the men's sports of baseball, cross country, golf, swimming, and tennis were added to the championship schedule.

The next major change came in 1981 when the office of the commissioner was instituted. Leland Byrd, who had served as president and executive director of the league since its inception, as well as athletic director at West Virginia, was named the Conference's first commissioner and established the commissioner's office in Pittsburgh. Byrd guided the Eastern 8 through several membership changes as Rhode Island, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph's, and Temple replaced Pittsburgh and Villanova. After membership stabilized, the Eastern 8 transformed into the Atlantic 10 Conference with Byrd orchestrating the drive to make the league more broad-based as the women's sports of basketball, gymnastics, softball, tennis, and volleyball were added to the championship slate.

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