Maryland and Rutgers Potentially Involved in More Lacrosse Conference Realignment

Mark L. Baer-US PRESSWIRE

Welp.

Apparently being part of the greatest lacrosse conference in the history of history isn't enticing enough for the University of Maryland to hang around the ACC. I'm shocked. Shocked!

ESPN -- via Dana O'Neil, Brett McMurphy, and Andy Katz -- is reporting that sources are indicating that Maryland (late of slashing a bunch of their athletic offerings due to an athletic budget that just reads "Icky!") and Rutgers are potentially on the move to the Big Ten Conference:

The University of Maryland is in serious negotiations to join the Big Ten Conference, sources told ESPN.com on Saturday.

If Maryland goes to the Big Ten, Rutgers of the Big East is expected to follow suit. The addition of Maryland and Rutgers would give the Big Ten 14 members as the league gears toward negotiations on a new media rights deal when its first-tier rights expire in 2017.

No date has been set for an potential announcement, though it could come as soon as Monday.

Assuming that this goes through, there are all kinds of ramifications to think about relative to college lacrosse concerns (which are obviously paramount to any other concerns (duh)):

  • As organized currently, the Big East Conference would lose its automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament with the departure of Rutgers (assuming the Big East tells the Scarlet Knights to stick it out on their own). With the eventual departures of Notre Dame and Syracuse to the ACC, the additional defection of Rutgers would drop the league's lacrosse playing membership to just five teams -- Villanova, Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, and (eventually) Marquette. That's one fewer than the mandatory six playing members necessary to earn an automatic invitation to May's great adventure. Let that sink in for a second: The NEC will have an automatic invitation to the big show and Georgetown, Villanova, and the remaining few -- unless they join another league -- will not have a guaranteed opportunity to have a shot at moving toward Championship Weekend.
  • Speaking of the remnants of the Big East (should Rutgers depart and the Big East not having a plan to address its defunct auto-bid status), the ECAC, MAAC, and THUNDERDOME! may be landing spots for many of these schools. (This assumes that none of these schools would want to walk the cold road of independence or try to form a new league, which has a mandatory waiting period before an automatic invitation is bestowed on the conference.) All three of these leagues are mixed-membership concerns, matching schools from different leagues for other sports to create unique lacrosse affiliations. A swelled ECAC could become untenable -- the league already has eight members -- and THUNDERDOME! and the MAAC aren't much leaner with seven schools each. The potential for a lacrosse superconference (or superconferences) could have wide-reaching implications on non-conference scheduling, and this is an interesting storyline to watch.
  • Would Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten Conference be enough for the league to consider sponsoring men's lacrosse? With Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State serving as the league's lacrosse consciousness -- and Minnesota considering enlightment -- the Big Ten, with the additional members, could have the momentum necessary to platform the game and get an automatic bid for its league. This would lighten the superconference bloating in the ECAC and THUNDERDOME!, allowing Big East members a clear approach to continuing their efforts in sanctioned conferences.
  • ATTENTION MICHIGAN STATE: This is your chance to get your act back together and play with the fancy folk. Elevate.
  • The ACC will go from being a deathray with an automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament to a five-team Gatling gun. The league will still be very good, but all members will need to qualify at an at-large basis for May. This may or may not be a more difficult proposition in the future, what with the potential death of the Big East and the potential inclusion of the Big Ten should the league pursue that option.

I'm sure there are more considerations, and we'll address them next week, but that's some stuff that jumped off the page at me on a Saturday evening. The comments are yours to unleash.

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