The ECAC has an unclear future ahead of it. With Loyola destined for the Patriot League next season and Michigan and Ohio State potentially off to help form a Big Ten Conference lacrosse league at some undetermined point in the future should the Big Ten want to walk down that path, the ECAC -- long a drop zone for programs without other recourse and the weirdest amalgamation going in Division I -- doesn't have a lot of clarity as to what it's going to be or look like a year or two down the road. This isn't to say that the ECAC is going to die -- it kind of has the shelf life of Twinkies given what the league has endured in its history -- but an ECAC comprised of Air Force, Bellarmine, Denver, Fairfield, and Hobart isn't quite the league that it is with Loyola, Ohio State, and Michigan also on the roster.
That fact, however, has not deterred Fox Sports Media Group -- which recently announced that it plans to storm ESPN's castle with arrows lit on fire and lots of yelling from medieval infantrymen -- from wanting to get in on the ECAC's hot lacrosse action. As announced today, the network reached a multi-year agreement with the ECAC to broadcast some lacrosse games, but there aren't a lot of details kicking around at this point.
FOX Sports Media Group (FSMG) today announced a new multi-year television agreement with ECAC Lacrosse. The NCAA Division I conference includes Air Force, Bellarmine, Denver, Fairfield, Hobart, Loyola University Maryland, Ohio State and Michigan.
This season, FOX Sports Networks (FSN) will televise the ECAC Lacrosse semifinals on Thursday, May 2 (5:00 PM ET and 8:00 PM ET) and finals on Saturday, May 4 (4:00 PM ET) live from Hobart College. The games will also be available on FUEL TV and FOX College Sports.
Beginning with the 2014 season, the ECAC Lacrosse tournament will air on FOX Sports 1, FSMG’s new national sports network set to launch in August. FSMG will also have the opportunity to televise a new ‘Game of the Week’ series.
What does this mean? Other than that Fox is looking to establish a deeper inventory catalogue, not much. There isn't anything here that details what the "Game of the Week" series is (and what that "opportunity" to broadcast the series is), the volume of lacrosse games that Fox will broadcast (outside of the ECAC Tournament), or how the network will platform the league. If Fox were to also deliver lacrosse games based on what the Catholic Seven can provide (Fox and that league are teaming up, even though that league doesn't technically exist right now), it'd start to become more clear whether Fox is legitimately attempting to get into the college lacrosse broadcast game at the level of ESPN, making apparent their dedication to platforming games. Right now it's just a little too opaque. It is, however, a nice development and a small party should be thrown with balloon animals (but not a magician; that's too far).
The ECAC joins a number of leagues with national broadcast deals: Ivy League (NBC Sports Network); Patriot League (CBS Sports Network); ACC, Big East, and selected games from various other leagues (ESPN). This is the great new wonderful, people, and if the Big Ten Network gets on board with what the Big Ten may choose to do relative to lacrosse, critical mass could be approaching.