I've been to Massachusetts numerous times in my pitiful existence. Throughout all of those trips -- to sightsee, to visit friends, to watch various sporting events (including one Beer Olympics) -- I have never heard of the words "UMass" and "Lowell" crammed together as some kind of single entity that exists on this planet. Like the DinoCroc, my initial assumption was that UMass-Lowell was merely an imaginary thing broadcast by Syfy that involved bad computer graphics and pop stars from the early-1980's. After doing some searching on the Internet computing machine, though, my assumption was wrong: UMass-Lowell is a school -- with students! -- located north of Boston. But you don't care about that. What you care about is this: UMass-Lowell is adding men's lacrosse and joining the America East Conference.
Six years ago, UMass Lowell Chancellor Martin Meehan had to fight tooth and nail to get UMass system trustees to save the school’s hockey program at the Division 1 level.
Yesterday, the UMass trustees approved elevating all of UMass Lowell’s athletic programs — male and female — to the NCAA's Division 1 beginning in September.
The school has accepted an invitation to join the nine-school America East Conference, which also is home to the state university of three other New England states — University of New Hampshire, University of Maine and University of Vermont.
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Skinner said that UMass Lowell currently has 17 intercollegiate sports. The university will be adding men’s and women’s lacrosse in 2014-15, giving 19. There is a reason lacrosse will be added.
According to Skinner, there are “sports of emphasis” in America East - soccer in the fall, basketball in the winter and lacrosse in the spring.
Hooray for lacrosse! Let us all celebrate with a room temperature glass of water and a multivitamin because your health is the most important thing.
Some brief notes:
- It appears as if the River Hawks will have about a two-year period to get itself in a position to compete at the Division I level. UMass-Lowell is going to need it, as the only lacrosse played on the campus right now is at the club level, and it isn't even at the virtual-varsity level that the MCLA sponsors (it looks like Lowell played in the NECLL last season). This is a ground-floor building project, but at least the River Hawks have geographic relevance and inclusion in an established conference.
- The inclusion of UMass-Lowell will push the America East's lacrosse-playing membership to seven (it would have been eight had Boston University not moved on to the Patriot League). This provides a little protection for the league against poaching, and also if Stony Brook and Albany -- which recently reset its football concerns -- start looking around for a new place to hang out. This is a good spot for the River Hawks to start their lacrosse adventure and creates a little depth -- and re-entry to the Boston marketplace -- for a league that could use a little bit of it.
- I like the fact that the America East is identifying lacrosse as its spring "sport of emphasis." I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it's better than "We sponsor lacrosse?"
So, what do you guys think about all this? Jazzed up to hear more Boston accents in two years? Let loose in the comments, friends.