In 30 years of the East Coast Conference, thousands of student-athletes have competed for their respective institutions. Only a select few of those continued their athletic careers to the professional level and even fewer have reached the pinnacle of their sport.
This article shines a light on those that competed in the ECC and went on to play at the highest professional level in the United States.
Jaylen Morris, Molloy
Morris recently became the second-ever ECC student-athlete to suit up for an NBA team when he appeared in 10 games for the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks over the past two seasons.
At Molloy, Morris was a three-time All-Conference honoree and finished his career with 1,618 points and a 48.8 shooting percentage. His best season came in 2016-17 when he averaged 19.9 points per game, was a First Team All-Conference and Second Team All-Region selection, and led the Lions to the final of the ECC Championship for the first time since 2000.
Garth Joseph, Saint Rose
Joseph preceded Morris as the first-ever from the conference to play in the NBA. Joseph appeared in four games for the Toronto Raptors and Denver Nuggets during the 2000-01 season.
Despite playing just three seasons at Saint Rose, Joseph made his mark as one of the top defensive players in league history. He ranks in the top-three in the ECC record book in rebounds (3rd - 1,072) and blocked shots (2nd - 300).
Joseph also scored 1,289 points, was the 1994-95 NYCAC Rookie of the Year, and was a two-time honorable mention All-American.
Mike Aviles, Concordia
Aviles, an ECC Hall of Famer, had arguably the most successful career of any former ECC student-athlete. At Concordia, he set numerous ECC records including most hits in a career and seasons, as well as the single-season mark for home runs. The two-time NYCAC Player of the Year was then drafted in the 7th round of the 2003 MLB Draft, becoming the highest drafted position player in conference history.
In 2007, Aviles became the sixth player in conference history to earn the call to the Major Leagues. He hit .325 with 27 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs and 51 RBI in his debut to finish fourth in the 2008 American League Rookie of the Year voting.
In addition to his stint in Kansas City, he has also played for the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, and Miami Marlins over his 10 year MLB career. He finished with a .261 batting average with 60 home runs and 306 RBI in 915 games.
Garvin Alston, Mercy
Alston pitched at Mercy for two seasons before transferring but later became the first student-athlete who had played in the conference to reach the Major Leagues. Alston saw six games worth of action for the Colorado Rockies in the 1996 season.
A member of Mercy's team in 1990 and 1991, Alston was an Honorable Mention All-American in his freshman season after finishing with a 4-2 record to go with 51 strikeouts and a 1.60 ERA in 50.2 innings. He also holds the second-lowest ERA (2.84) in program history.
Alston has remained in professional baseball as a coach, serving as a bullpen coach for the Oakland Athletics and Arizona Diamondbacks, and as the pitching coach for the Minnesota Twins during the 2018 season.
Brian Sweeney, Mercy
Sweeney, the 1995 NYCAC Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year at Mercy, spent parts of four seasons pitching in the Major Leagues for the Seattle Mariners and the San Diego Padres. He compiled a 4-2 record with a 3.38 earned run average and 54 strikeouts over 117.0 innings pitched.
In his time at Mercy, Sweeney set program records for complete games (15) and strikeouts (192) and also the single-season strikeout record (72 in 1996).
Like Alston, Sweeney has remained active in professional baseball as a coach. After spending time coaching in the Philadelphia Phillies minor league system, Sweeney has been a part of the Cleveland Indians MLB coaching staff under manager, Terry Francona.
Bob File, Philadelphia (now Jefferson)
File spent three seasons pitching out of the Toronto Blue Jays bullpen in the early 2000s. His rookie season was his most successful with a 3.27 ERA over 60 appearances that totaled 74.1 innings.
File converted to a pitcher after a standout career as a position player at Philadelphia. He was a three-time NYCAC All-Conference pick and the 1998 NYCAC Player of the Year after leading all of Division II with a .542 batting average. He also ranks second all-time in conference history behind Aviles with 296 hits.
Curtis King, Philadelphia (now Jefferson)
Another former Philadelphia standout, King made his MLB debut in 1997 with the St. Louis Cardinals. He pitched parts of three seasons with the Cardinals, finishing with a 6-2 record with a 3.43 ERA over 81.1 innings pitched.
Similar to File, King spent time as a position player for the Rams. During his senior season of 1994 he hit .423 with 10 doubles, nine home runs, and 48 RBI. He also logged time as a pitcher that season, finishing with a 6-2 record with a 3.93 ERA on the mound.
Glen Barker, Saint Rose
Barker was the first position player in conference history to reach the Major Leagues when he debuted for the Houston Astros during the 1999 season. Barker, a speedy outfielder, appeared in 235 games over parts of three seasons with the Astros where he hit .232 and added 30 stolen bases.
During his time in the NYCAC (92-93), Barker hit .338 and swiped 65 stolen bases. He was also an NYCAC All-Conference First Team pick in 1993.
Guy-Roland Kpene, Dowling
Kpene became the first and only ECC standout to appear on a Major League Soccer pitch in 2007. He suited up for D.C. United for 15 games during the 2007 campaign and tallied two assists.
In his time at Dowling, Kpene helped the Golden Lions to the 2006 NCAA Division II National Championship with an All-American season that saw him tally 60 points on 25 goals and 10 assists. He also tallied 13 goals and seven assists during the 2005 season.
Lacrosse (National Lacrosse League, Major League Lacrosse, Premier Lacrosse League)
Connor Farrell, LIU Post
Farrell turned his success as one of the best in Division II history at winning faceoffs into a professional career after being drafted by the Chrome of the Premier Lacrosse League.
In the PLL's debut season, Farrell has become a fan-favorite while winning faceoffs at a clip of 54.5 percent (114-for-209). This comes after a senior season in which he was named the DII Faceoff Player of the Year after setting three Division II single-season records with 268 ground balls, 16.75 ground balls per game, and an 81.4 percent faceoff win percentage.
Kyle Rubisch, Dowling
After a career at Dowling that saw him twice named a USILA All-American (2009, 2010), Rubisch has cemented his status as one of the best defensive players in professional lacrosse. A member of the Saskatchewan Rush of the NLL, Rubisch won the league's Defensive Player of the Year honor four times (2012-15) and has been among the league's leaders in forced turnovers and loose balls throughout his career.
Other NLL or MLL Players
New York Tech
- Numerous ECC student-athletes have gone on to play professionally in minor leagues, independent leagues, and top professional leagues in other countries. This article focuses only on those that reached the top level of professional leagues based in the United States.
- We acknowledge that the list of professional lacrosse players and blurbs about their careers may be incomplete. It was hard to locate historical data from the National Lacrosse League and Major League Lacrosse while researching information for this article. If you have any information about former ECC standouts who played in these leagues, please send it to Casey Rafferty (email@example.com) so this article can be updated.