Periodic Expansion/Realignment post

Every so often, I like to delve into the topic of lacrosse growth (particularly at the Division-1 college level). Now is that time. It’s not strictly on-topic for this site, but any moves in the D-1 landscape have potential effects on the teams in the state, so here we are.

First up, a predictive-type post on From Old Virginia. What will the world of lacrosse look like in five years? A couple things align with some of what I’ve predicted in the past.

The MAAC will become a “fully funded” league.

There will be a Southern Conference.

The ECAC will re-evolve into a reincarnation of the Great Western Lacrosse League.  The GWLL formed in response to the NCAA dropping the “western region” from the tournament, and it was a fairly viable league until schools like Butler and Michigan State dropped the game… I think Fairfield and Loyola will [eventually leave the ECAC]; further, the idea of Detroit staying in the MAAC is a 50/50 proposition at best.

That’s just a small snippet of the post, with the most relevant portions blockquoted more liberally. I recommend the whole thing if it’s a topic you’re interest in. I’m in full support of a GWLL-like substance that includes Detroit but not Loyola and Fairfield (even if it means potentially weakening the overall roster).

Last I talked conference realignment, Boston University’s eventual conference home was a question mark. Now, we know that the Terriers will play in the Patriot League. That’s no surprise, given that Boston U is making the move from America East to the Patriot League in all sports. Army, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, and Navy will be their conference-mates.

Furman initially planned to begin playing Division-1 lacrosse in the spring of 2015, but the Paladins will actually start a year sooner. Their conference home is as-yet unknown. A mythical southern conference could be a good home.

College Crosse’s Hoya Suxa takes on a few questions from Dawg Sports about what it might take for the University of Georgia to field a Division-1 team (and a competitive one at that) in the future. Though it would take UGa a bit of time to be competitive, that would certainly a bigtime boost from a branding standpoint to the mythical southern conference.

412 Lax is operating on a tip that Southern Methodist is soon to add lacrosse (though it didn’t happen yesterday as expected, an announcement could still be on the way). Obviously, that would be another boost to lacrosse in the South, and possibly expedite a southern conference of some sort.

Effect on the Great Lax State

Obviously, some of what we’re dealing with here is more in the realm of rumor, innuendo, and hypothetical than anything concrete, but some of the above-linked stories (basically all except the Boston U news) could have effects on both Michigan and Detroit down the road. First things first, I think a southern conference of some sort is inevitable, and the more programs (and more quickly, in the case of Furman) add the game, the closer we are to that happening.

Ultimately, I think what we’ll see happen is two entities, the MAAC and ECAC, radically altered when all is said and done. Those changes will result in (or perhaps be instigated by) the formation of the Southern Conference, as the MAAC loses Jacksonville and more than likely VMI. The MAAC – now fully funding its programs – is more enticing to Loyola and Fairfield, convincing the two members to switch affiliations for lacrosse.

That leaves the MAAC improved, a Southern Conference seeking a few more members, and some schools primed to make a move. The ECAC – which I’ll just start calling the GWLL – has already lost Loyola and Fairfield, and could also lose Bellarmine to the Southern Conference. Thanks to that attrition, they shore up the ranks a bit by adding Detroit (but are still short a couple members).

The potential ripple effects are even more widespread – is USC as close to adding men’s lacrosse as it seems? Is the Big East going to peter out as a lacrosse conference after losing Syracuse? – but the formation of western and southern conferences is one hell of a way to continue encouraging growth outside of the traditional areas.

For teams based in Michigan, that can only be a good thing.

Even further outside of the normal purview of this blog: alignment in college women’s lacrosse. However, the ALC (future home to Michigan) lost a member today when Johns Hopkins announced that the women’s team will join their men as an independent.

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