Maryland, Rutgers Moves Will Shake Up Lacrosse
updated 11.20.2012 at 2.32 p.m.
* Related: Coaches React to Potential Big Ten Lacrosse
The University of Maryland will join the Big Ten Conference effective for the 2014-15 season, and Rutgers will follow, the school and conference announced at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. The moves, which are driven mainly by football considerations, would significantly impact the men’s and women’s lacrosse landscape, just like a flurry of other moves already have.
On the lacrosse front, Maryland leaving the ACC, paired with Rutgers bolting from the Big East for the Big Ten, means...
- The ACC’s future, super men’s and women’s conferences — with Syracuse joining in July and Notre Dame joining eventually — will take a hit, but still be considered the strongest leagues in the nation. The men’s conference would be left with Duke, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia; that’s five teams, one short of the required number to have an automatic qualifying berth to the NCAA tournament. The women’s ACC would include Boston College, Duke, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech and Syracuse.
- Maryland men’s and women’s teams will leave the
familiarity and conference rivalries of the ACC behind (although
it's hard to imagine the Terps not keeping those rivals on the
schedule) and will need to find lacrosse leagues to join, or choose
to remain independent. The Big Ten currently does not field
men’s or women’s leagues, but the addition of Maryland
and Rutgers would give the conference five varsity men’s
programs (with Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State) and six
women’s teams (with Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State and
Penn State). That puts the idea of viable Big Ten lacrosse
conferences on the table, although it could also make sense for
Maryland to join the ECAC, which already includes Michigan and Ohio
State in men's lacrosse. Big Ten rules stipulate that the
confernece will not sponsor a sport unless it has six members.
On the women’s side, there would be enough teams for a conference tournament and rivals Northwestern and Maryland would be in the same conference (A Big Ten spokesperson said Monday that a decision to add the sport is "still TBA"). However, the American Lacrosse Conference (ALC) would also seem to be a natural fit for the Terps on the women’s side with that lacrosse conference already including four Big Ten schools, and Florida and Vanderbilt (Johns Hopkins will leave the ALC to become independent in 2014). Rutgers' women's program would be in a similar situation while it's men's program would search for a league to join.
"Clearly financially this works for Maryland," former Terps men's coach Dave Cottle tweeted Monday as news of the decision broke, "However what price do [sic] you place on rivalries,traditions and relationships that have been built."
- The Big East would eventually be left with only five men’s programs (Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John’s and Villanova). That is not enough to sustain an automatic qualifying berth to the NCAA tournament. The women’s conference would be in slightly better condition, still including Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Marquette, Louisville and Villanova. Loyola already announced earlier this year it will join the Patriot League for 2013-14, to go along with Notre Dame and Syracuse leaving for the ACC.
- With the ACC and Big East potentially having just five men’s lacrosse members, would schools with ties to those conference that currently do not field varsity teams be prompted to seriously consider going NCAA D-I sooner? Florida State, an ACC school, has indicated that if its athletic department adds new sports, the first two will be men’s and women’s lacrosse. Pitt, which fields an MCLA Division I team, will be joining the ACC in 2013. Other current ACC members are Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina, NC State, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.