Conference Realignment Watch: Louisville to ACC
updated 11.28.2012 at 11.29 a.m.
Conference realignment has started and it appears there will be no end in the near future, as college athletics enters a new era and institutions seemingly scramble to find their new conference home. Indications are that there could be four of five NCAA Division I "super-conferences" when all is said and done, driven mainly by football and financial considerations.
But each move has an effect on lacrosse as well, although not for two seasons. We track the impacts:
What happened: Louisville to ACC
The ACC presidents and chancellors voted Wednesday morning to accept Louisville into the conference, the ACC and the school announced. The move is for the 2014-15 school year, multiple media outlets have reported. The Cardinals currently play in the Big East and will replace Maryland, which last week announced it's moving to the Big Ten.
What it means for lacrosse: Louisville, which fields a varsity women's lacrosse team but not a men's team, will be welcomed to the high-end ACC lacrosse world in the spring of 2015. The women's ACC lacrosse league is projected to include by then: Boston College, Duke, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Virginia and Virginia Tech and Syracuse.
Louisville's move would leave the Big East women's conference, as it's currently projected for the spring of 2015, with six teams: Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Marquette, Temple and Villanova. Temple becomes a full member of the Big East in July. Six is just enough for the league to sustain an automatic qualifying berth to the NCAA tournament. With one more loss, the women's Big East would be in a similar position as the men's side, lacking AQ status with five teams (Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's and Villanova) after Rutgers announced last week it's heading to the Big Ten for 2014-15.
SI.com reported Wednesday morning that UConn, South Florida, Cincinnati and Navy have also contacted the ACC about potentially joining the conference. If Cincinnati or Navy joined, lacrosse dominoes would fall in the Big East women's league and Patriot League, respectively. The Big East women would be down to five teams, and could you imagine Navy women's coach Cindy Timchal, formerly of Maryland, back in the ACC? Or the longstanding Maryland-Navy rivalry continuing with Navy as the ACC member, and Maryland as its non-conference opponent?
ACC Lacrosse in Spring 2015, As It Stands Now
Big East Lacrosse in Spring 2015, As It Stands Now
What happened: Denver goes to Summit, Grand Canyon replaces Pioneers in WAC
Denver will move all of its teams currently playing in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) to the Summit League after the 2012-13 season. Grand Canyon University, located in Phoenix, Ariz., will replace Denver in the WAC and transition its athletic programs to the NCAA Division I level.
What it means for lacrosse: Not much. In announcing the move, Denver said its men's and women's lacrosse teams will stay in their respective conferences, the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF), respectively.
Grand Canyon until the spring of 2011 had a NCAA Division II men's lacrosse team, but last year played in MCLA-II and this year will play in MCLA-I, and it's unlikely the team will be going back varsity soon.
What happened: Tulane and East Carolina join the Big East
Tulane will join the Big East in all sports for 2014-15 and East Carolina will join as a football-only member.
What it means for lacrosse: Not much. Tulane does not sponsor men's and women's varsity lacrosse. ECU is only joining the Big East in football. If their move was in all sports, it would be more intriguing, considering the recent trend of Southeast schools adding Division I lacrosse programs from 2013-15: Furman men and women, Richmond men, High Point men, Elon women, Mercer women, Wingate women, Winthrop women, Stetson women, Kennesaw State women and Campbell women.
Lacrosse Magazine's Jac Coyne contributed to this report.