Michigan’s promotion to varsity raises the age-old question: why isn’t there a lacrosse conference composed of teams away from the East Coast? The closest thing, the conference with both Colorado Schools and Ohio State and Bellarmine (located in Lousiville, KY), is hilariously called the “Eastern College Athletic Conference,” despite, you know, that whole “West” thing. Even Michigan will play in the ECAC in their first year with the Big Boys.
So what makes that conference fall short of being the conference of my dreams (other than the name)? It also has a few East Coast members in Fairfield and Loyola, and an upstate New York squad from Hobart.
Is it possible that a conference is formed composed of teams away from the East Coast could be created? Well, such a conference has actually existed in the past. The Great Western Lacrosse League operated from 1994 until 2009 with a host of different participating teams:
Denver wasn’t a full Division-1 lacrosse program until 1999, but they’re listed as a charter member of the league. Although it had absorbed the loss of members in the past, the conference dissolved for good when the Big East Lacrosse Conference was formed and Notre Dame announced its plans to ditch the GWLL. The members ended up in various places:
- Air Force, Bellarmine, Denver, and Ohio State are in the ECAC, reunited with former conference-mate Fairfield.
- Quinnipiac played for a year in the ECAC before becoming a charter member of the Northeast Conference this season.
Since the demise of the GWLL, there have been some changes to the D-1 landscape’s Western Front. Specifically, Detroit and Michigan have come into existence. I’m a little surprised that the GWLL didn’t simply replace Notre Dame with Detroit and continue existing as a conference in 2010 and beyond. With a big “name” school to replace the Irish in Michigan, is it time for the GWLL to be reborn from its ashes?
Now that Michigan is involved, there are five current ECAC teams away from hotbed states. There are three ECAC teams located in hotbed states. There are also rumors that Penn State may be interested in joining its Big Ten brethren in a conference, but we’ll leave that alone for now. What I’m interested in is a big switcheroo with the MAAC.
Two ECAC squads, Loyola and Fairfield, are actually MAAC teams in most sports outside of lacrosse. It would make sense for them to play lacrosse in their home conference, no? Adding two decent programs to the MAAC would also up the credibility of the league as a whole. In exchange, the ECAC should take Detroit, which is a much better geographic fit in a league with teams in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Colorado than one with only East Coast squads.
Since dreams of a Southern Conference are likely to die along with Presbyterian’s lacrosse program, go West, young man.
This has been Part 1 in a series of posts looking at conference affiliation in Division-1 Lacrosse.