I had a source let me know Saturday that an Atlantic Sun Conference would be coming to a lacrosse field near you sometime soon, and lo and behold, it’s here.
Mercer (Ind.), Furman (N/A), VMI (MAAC), Jacksonville (MAAC), Richmond (N/A) and High Point (Ind.) will be your members.
There’s the big domino in your Southern lacrosse conference, and it happened in such a way that the ECAC is untouched (Bellarmine), two new programs and two recently added programs without conferences to date have homes, and in all honesty, the MAAC is strengthened, not just by shedding some “dead weight” in the form of VMI, but also contracting geographically and allowing remaining members to cut their travel budgets for conference play.
Other Changes Coming?
The same source (evidently a very good one) mentioned to me that it sounds extremely likely that Johns Hopkins will accept an invitation to form a Big Ten Conference, should that possibility be on the table down the road. That would obviously be another seismic-ish shift in the lacrosse world.
This part is where the post gets super-speculative, so none of this is gospel truth, just my thought process.
We’ve already seen Loyola dump the ECAC (lacrosse) and MAAC (all-sports) for the Patriot League (both). Two Big Ten teams and a CAA team (and a Big East team and ACC duo, though I suspect they’d be independent for a year coming up here) would be abandoning their current conferences. Along with Syracuse/Notre Dame’s departure from the Big East, you have two conferences that look like they’re going to struggle to survive.
I would bet in an instant on Fairfield leaving the ECAC for the MAAC (its all-sports home conference) in that situation, so you have lots of ECAC and Big East remnants looking for new homes (for the record, I have heard reiterated time and again that Detroit will be in the MAAC as long as they’re welcome, so don’t expect them to join a Western Conference 🙁 ).
You could easily see the true “eastern” Big East teams finding their own way (whether it’s the Big Priest or whatever it ends up being) into a new conference. The question marks for me are Bellarmine, Denver/Air Force, and Marquette. Will they be vagabonds, searching for a new conference home if the Big Ten Conference comes to fruition? It remains to be seen, but at this point it looks like a possibility.