The Big Ten has announced that Maryland will be joining the conference for the 2014-15 academic year, and the popular pick for a 14th(!) school in the league is Rutgers.
While this is an unmitigated disaster for the Big Ten as a football conference, it’s a huge boost to money – which, as we’ve seen, is the one and only consideration when realignment is on the table – and, incidentally, lacrosse.
On the women’s side, adding Maryland makes for five programs in the sport – Northwestern, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and now the Terps. On the men’s side, it’s up to four (no Northwestern). Assuming Rutgers is indeed the next school to announce its acceptance into the Big Ten, that’s six women’s programs, and five for the men.
That means the women have enough teams to form an NCAA automatic bid conference, obviously a boost to lacrosse in the region should the Big Ten choose to go that route. On the men’s side, however, things are even more exciting. With five programs, the league is one short of the minimum for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The incentive for a Michigan State or Minnesota to add a program is suddenly boosted to levels that seem to make the move for at least one of them an inevitably (though perhaps not a short-term one).
While lacrosse certainly wasn’t on the minds of Big Ten athletic directors when they decided to reach for a few more bucks here and there, the benefits – both from a standpoint of individual schools having the money to add a program and a competitive incentive to do so – could mean a boost for the Midwest.
I’ve been planning for a while to write about about expansion/realignment/etc. Obviously when this news first started coming out, I hit the brakes on that to see what would shake out. I should have something on the topic in the coming days. Cliff Notes version: sayonara, Big East Lacrosse.