Reports this morning indicate that Notre Dame will leave the Big East for the ACC in its non-football sports (and remain independent on the gridiron). With the departure of Syracuse – also to the ACC – that could cripple the Big East Lacrosse conference.
- Marquette (2013)
- St. John’s
Depending on timing, that will leave the Big East with a second- or third-year expansion team in Marquette, while robbing the league of its two best members (Cuse and ND). Obviously, this is a huge blow to the league, but it will still sport enough teams to hold an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
From a conference realignment perspective, the Big East is on very shaky ground here – in just its fourth season (upcoming) of sponsoring a lacrosse championship. With only five conference games to play, the financials may not be too hard on Marquette (the only program not on the East Coast), especially if they can pick up regular games with Midwest brethren like Notre Dame, Michigan, Ohio State, and even Detroit, which they will almost certainly be able to do.
However, it could also have a few other effects on the lacrosse landscape:
- ACC can sponsor an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament (six teams, with the additions of Syracuse and Notre Dame), removing an at-large bid from the pool.
- Barrier to NCAA Tournament contention for Big East schools gets lower, possibly resulting in a higher incentive to add the sport.
- Incentive for a school like Boston College (become the sixth ACC team and get the league an autobid!) is not quite as high, but the league will be autobid-worthy a little sooner.
- Marquette could get sick of being a complete geographic mismatch with its conference and look for a more geographically-sound conference home.
It remains to be seen which effects will ultimately come to fruition, but this is certainly a situation to watch in my constant “Bring back a GWLL” campaign.