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Erie Community College will leave the Northeast Football Conference to compete as an independent and drop swimming and diving, athletics director Peter Jerebko announced Monday.

ECC, which started football in 2001, won the NEFC title in 2003 and finished as the league runners-up in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. However, the Kats have won just four games in league play in the last three seasons. ECC was 2-6 overall and 1-5 in the conference last season.

ASA of New York City, Dean (Mass.) Hudson Valley CC, Lackawanna (Pa.) College, Louisburg (N.C.), Monroe CC and Nassau CC are the remaining members of the NEFC. The Kats will play several NEFC members in the 2013 season.

“We’ve seen several institutions drop their programs in recent years and while we’re not pleased with the recent success of our program, we’re still going to be playing on Saturdays,” Jerebko said. “There are more things to the football program, and an athletics department, than wins and losses — such as community involvement and making sure we provide opportunities for individuals to play and hopefully move on to four-year programs. We’ve done those things. And we look forward to continuing to do those things with our football program, just against different competition.”

ECC suspended swimming and diving last season because of a low turnout for the teams.

“It’s unfortunate that we have not been able to get more participants in our swimming and diving program,” Jerebko said. “We’ve taken some time to evaluate the program and we’ll take more time to look at what we need to do.”

Niagara stays in rankings

Niagara held 15th place in the USCHO.com poll and was back in the listings at No. 14 in the USA Today/ USA Hockey Magazine Poll after being out of the rankings last week. The Purple Eagles have been as high as 13th in the USA Today poll.

The Purple Eagles (21-8-5) will open a best-of-three Atlantic Hockey quarterfinal series against RIT at Dwyer Arena at 7:05 p.m. Friday night. Games Two and Three (if necessary) are scheduled at 7:05 the next two nights.

Tickets for all three games are on sale at the Niagara Ticket Office in Dwyer or can be ordered by calling 286-TIXX, visiting PurpleEagles.com/Tickets, or emailing Tickets@PurpleEagles.com.

In other college hockey news, Canisius goalie Tony Capobianco was named Atlantic Hockey Goaltender of the Week after he backstopped the Golden Griffins’ sweep of Bentley in the first round of the conference playoffs. Capobianco allowed only one goal in the two contests, stopping 70 of 71 shots for a .986 save percentage.

The Griffs will open a best-of-three quarterfinal series at the Air Force Academy in Colorado at 9:05 p.m. Friday. Game Two will be at the same time Saturday and a third game, if necessary, will be played at 9:05 on Sunday night.

Air Force went 2-0-1 against Canisius in the regular season, winning both of those games at home.

Kelso, Smiley honored

• Canisius junior Jesse Kelso (East Aurora) was selected as the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference baseball Player of the Week, the first time in his career he won the award. Kelso batted .462 (6-for-13) in four starts last week, scoring eight runs, recording three extra base hits and drawing five walks to post a .769 slugging percentage and .611 on-base percentage. The 5-foot-10 outfielder also stole three bases and drove in three runs in the series win at Longwood. Kelso scored multiple runs in three of the four games and had two multi-hit games. He is the son of former Buffalo Bills safety Mark Kelso.

• Buffalo State junior forward Bianca Smiley (Sweet Home) was named to the ECAC women’s basketball All-Star team. Smiley also was an All-State University Athletic Conference first team selection. She finished third in the SUNYAC in scoring (13.7) and fourth in rebounding (8.0) and led the conference with a .457 field goal shooting percentage and was fourth in free-throw shooting (.728). Smiley has 744 points in two seasons as a Bengal after transferring from Medaille College.