Despite the fact that seven schools with conference membership play Division I men’s lacrosse, there were two major obstacles to the formation of the league. First, Syracuse had long-cherished its status as one of the final remaining independent schools in Division I lacrosse (this season, only the Orange, Johns Hopkins and newcomer Presbyterian played as independents). Second, the Big East was hesitant to add men’s lacrosse when two of its potential members - Villanova and Providence - were not fully funded.
But after years of waiting, Inside Lacrosse has learned that the Orange have changed their tack, and both the Wildcats and Friars are in the process of meeting internally to procure funding. The expected result is that the Big East will be a reality in the immediate future, by the end of June at the latest.
So what does the Big East look like? One juggernaut (Syracuse), two perennial power teams (Georgetown, Notre Dame), a quality-if-not-powerful program (Rutgers) and three little guys (St. John's, Providence and Villanova).
For sure the move, along with the creation of the NEC, will be sending shockwaves through college lacrosse. The moves affect multiple conferences including the CAA, ECAC, MAAC and Great Western League who will all now have to either invite new members or readjust on their own. According to Sean Burns, get ready for a conference realignment that would make the whole ACC/Big East/CUSA football moves from a few years ago look like child's play. Check out the expected realignment of all conference here.
As I've always said, it was an inevitable move and a fantastic one for the legitimacy of college lacrosse. As Georgetown coach Dave Urick says, "When a conference like the Big East has men’s lacrosse, it benefits the growth of the sport."
So how will this affect Syracuse on a scheduling basis? Some tough decisions will likely have to be made.
With Hobart leaving Division-1, that's one less to worry about, but which NY State opponent will feel the pinch first? Binghamton? Cornell? Albany? Or will we have to be more prudent in scheduling the Virginias and Princetons of the world in order to make room?
What a last couple of weeks for college lacrosse. All good things...all good things.