When Boston College announced that Athletics Director Gene DeFilippo is set to retire effective September 30, 2012, everyone's mind turned to the exact same thing:
does news out of Chestnut Hill today open the door for D1 lacrosse "on the heights"? ACC school, rivalries with BU/Harvard/UMASS— Eamon McAnaney (@EamonMcAnaney) August 17, 2012
Either that or whether mint chocolate chip ice cream should become a cornerstone block to the food pyramid. One of the two, I guess.
This is far from a dead issue at Boston College. BC Interruption, SB Nation's site for Boston College cultists, recently published two pieces -- the first longing for a varsity men's squad right around NCAA Tournament time; the second wondering whether the Eagles would step up their game on the heels of Syracuse's announcement of when it would be joining the ACC -- addressing "the lacrosse issue." Folks seem to want major college lacrosse back at Chestnut Hill, and not just in an oblique way: With DeFilippo out of the way and the university looking for a replacement, we're moving into "demand" territory with respect to how the new Athletic Director needs to treat men's lacrosse:
Bring back men's varsity lacrosse. Evaluate the school's mix of 31 varsity sports. Determine the optimal mix of varsity sports the school should offer and then aggressively invest in those programs.
I understand the difficulties in administering college athletic programs; compliance and funding is something that many schools struggle with, and in the wake of Maryland's recent cuts of athletic offerings, there is a lot of pressure to find sustainability in a somewhat unstable environment. With that said, however, it doesn't make any sense to not have a varsity men's program at B.C. I mean, the Eagles were never a powerhouse before DeFilippo demoted the program in the early-2000's, but this is a different time and the atmosphere around Division I lacrosse is conducive not only for the Eagles to compete, but also to potentially thrive. Pertinently:
- If Boston College were to elevate its program, it would be joining a conference that would eventually earn an automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament as the ACC would have the requisite six teams necessary to receive the free pass to mid-May. Not to mention the fact that the Eagles would be right in the middle of the strongest league in the country, visiting and receiving visits from five of the the most powerful programs in Division I on a yearly basis. This is guaranteed gate revenue as well as important recruiting highlights.
- There's already a built-in local rivalry base. Not only will this save on travel costs (due to the number of programs within a short bus trip from Chestnut Hill), it'll create an even stronger lacrosse culture around Massachusetts and greater Boston. Harvard, UMass, Boston University, Providence, Brown, Bryant . . . with the ACC slate that's already an 11-game schedule that writes itself and holds value. If the rumors are true relative to what B.C.'s alumni have already offered in terms of providing seed funding (offers that DeFilippo turned down), the local schedule combined with some delineated "national" games could be covered and efficiently financed more than reasonably.
- Throughout New England there are more than enough kids that fit the Boston College profile (both academically and athletically). The university is a known quantity, and even outside New England, the program is going to have draw. I'm not saying that the Eagles can come in and crush, but Boston College has institutional clout throughout the region (a region with plenty of talent). A little dedication -- both in terms of resources and otherwise -- to a men's varsity program and the Eagles could eventually do a little bit of damage.
- With the ACC's new bazillonty-dollar television deal, there is going to be cash around. That kind of financial resources, if used wisely, could put Boston College among the tops in the country -- with its conference mates and a handful of others -- in terms of program development.
It's just all there for Boston College to pursue if it chooses to have a little guts and make the move. I'm not saying that Boston College should cut men's varsity programs in baseball, sailing, fencing, golf, and skiing to make way for men's varsity lacrosse (well, maybe baseball because baseball -- in general -- is stupid and baseball in the north -- specifically -- is incredibly stupid); I'm just saying that with a little ingenuity and desire men's lacrosse could happen in a big way at Boston College.