Georgetown University's football team will join the Patriot League, beginning with the 2001 season, several league sources said yesterday.

The move, which will be announced today, represents a step up in competitive level from Georgetown's present football affiliation, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, but keeps the team in a conference that does not allow athletic scholarships for football players.

Unlike the MAAC champion, the Patriot League champion receives an automatic bid to the 16-team Division I-AA playoffs. A source said Georgetown also has plans to expand Kehoe Field, whose 2,400 seating capacity makes it less than half the size of the smallest football facility in the Patriot League. The league's present members for football are Bucknell, Colgate, Fordham, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh and Towson. (Towson and Fordham are in the league only for football; Navy and Army are in the league for nearly all sports except football.)

Georgetown has "an outstanding tradition of athletic and academic excellence, which reflects the core values of the Patriot League," Commissioner Carolyn Schlie Femovich said last night. "Their desire to compete at the level of our programs makes them a very attractive member for our football league."

She declined to comment further prior to today's news conference. Georgetown Athletic Director Joe Lang declined to comment, saying he preferred to wait for the news conference.

Georgetown competes in the Big East Conference in men's and women's basketball and most other team sports. For football, its MAAC opponents are Canisius, Duquesne, Fairfield, Iona, La Salle, Marist, St. Peter's and Siena. The Hoyas have been 9-2 overall in each of the past two seasons, including two victories over Holy Cross and a 49-40 loss to Fordham in 1998. Coach Bob Benson has advocated joining the Patriot League.

This past season, Patriot League co-champions Colgate and Lehigh both received bids to the Division I-AA playoffs. In 1998, Lehigh advanced to the second round before losing to eventual champion Massachusetts. Patriot League schools can provide athletic scholarships in men's and women's basketball.

In football, the schools provide aid based on need, but that aid can be entirely in the form of a grant that does not have to be repaid.