Realignment: Loyola to join the Patriot League

It’s no secret that I’ve spent many, many words in this space talking about conference realignment (and, in large part, how it could result in the rebirth of a GWLL). Another major domino in that respect dropped this afternoon, when Loyola announced that it would be leaving the MAAC in all sports and joining the Patriot League.

Although Loyola’s primary conference home had been the MAAC (which also plays D-1 lacrosse, but not to an acceptable standard for the reigning champs), the men’s lacrosse team participated in the ECAC. Now, all sports will move to the Patriot. That leaves the two leagues in question looking like this as of Spring 2014:

ECAC 2012 Rank (LaxPower/TFL) Patriot 2012 LaxPower Rank
Denver 5/8 Loyola 2/2
Ohio State 19/15 Lehigh 9/13
Fairfield 23/23 Colgate 12/12
Air Force 35/29 Bucknell 15/17
Hobart 37/36 Army 26/24
Bellarmine 39/41 Navy 29/26
Michigan 58/59 Lafayette 53/53
Holy Cross 54/54
Avg. Rank 30.86 Avg. Rank 25.00

That one change adds prestige to the Patriot, while removing some from the ECAC. However, it’s not a death blow to the more Western-based conference, and of course, a program like Michigan has an upside that most others don’t, simply on account of being new to the Division-1 scene.

It’s also likely that the reshuffling is not completely done. Will the two remaining Eastern teams in the ECAC look to join a league more geographically sensible, now that one of their conference opponents is no longer a quick(er) trip away? Will the ECAC look to replace the Greyhounds with another team, albeit a less prestigious one? Do Michigan and Ohio State try to convince fellow Big Ten member Penn State to join them in the ECAC? Does Detroit look to get into the ECAC, since it makes a bit more geographic sense for them?

Obviously, there are a lot of unanswered questions here, and it remains to be seen how it shakes out. Hell, the Big East might not be as stable after Syracuse jets to the ACC in the near future. My personal preference -hardly a surprise – is for a rebirth of the GWLL, without East Coast teams in it. That’s likely still a ways into the future, but at least one domino has dropped in what could be an interesting time of realignment.

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One Response to Realignment: Loyola to join the Patriot League

  1. CKLaxalum says:

    Any time a conference loses (or gains) a team such as Syracuse, it’s a big deal. However, with ND, Villanova, Georgetown, Rutgers, St. John’s, and Providence, the Big East still has 7 teams (with the addition of Marquette) and remains plenty stable.

    If anything, (and I hate to say it) I somewhat worry about the stability of the ECAC, among others. Afterall, it’s somewhat of a hodgepodge of teams.

    Also, the addition of BU to America East is a nice “stabilizing”/insurance measure for that conference.

    In fact, I’d be worried about any conference with only the minimum number of teams (6) for an automatic qualifier…especially a weak conference such as the Northeast.

    If a conference ever found itself in danger of falling below 6 teams, there’s always free agents High Point, Mercer, and Furman to fill the void. (Hopkins will probably always remain independent).

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