Skepticism as to whether the "new" Big East -- it's like the "old" Big East but different in that it's kind of the same but totally different -- would platform lacrosse as part of its set of athletic sponsorships was fairly reasonable given the climate of conference realignment and how things were shaping up: With only five lacrosse-playing members porting over from the "old" league to whatever construct the "new" league would take, would the "new" conference look to establish a lacrosse presence or merely spit its lacrosse-playing members into the atmosphere to either join other leagues as associate members or force them into the grand uncertainty that is independence?
With the conference's announcement today that it would both add Xavier, Butler, and Creighton to the league's roster and that the confederation would create a partnership with Fox Sports, that skepticism has officially been jettisoned to the moon: The "new" Big East is going to sponsor men's lacrosse, and you're going to be able to see at least of a little bit of it on your glorified furniture:
Fox Sports and the new, "reborn" as the network put it, Big East Conference announced a 12-year partnership. The deal will feature regular season basketball and the Big East Tournament, which will remain at Madison Square Garden. The announcement was made at a press event in New York by Big East member presidents and Fox Sports Co-President and COO Randy Freer.
"We applaud all the Big East schools for taking responsibility for their own destiny and forming what is clearly one of the top college basketball leagues in the country," said Freer, whose network will broadcast not only men's basketball, but a select number of games from the conference's women's basketball, lacrosse, and baseball leagues, as well as Olympic sports.
(Note: Empahsis added.)
How about that? The "new" Big East looked like it was headed for an animal farm in Pennsylvania to roam with other sick puppies and all of a sudden it is not only alive and doing 500-pound leg squats, but is going to put lacrosse games on the television. That's . . . that's something that definitely happened. Which raises the next issue: If the "new" Big East only has five teams and you need six to attend the party that features magicians and a guy making balloon animals, how do you increase the roster roll? Through associate membership, college boy:
The new Big East will continue to invite and designate associate members, especially those from the current Big East schools, in a select group of sports, including lacrosse and field hockey.
Hoo-boy. Lacrosse-specific conference realignment is far from over, pals and gal pals. It's very opaque as to which schools the "new" Big East will target to get another body or two into the fold, but you have to think that Johns Hopkins -- regardless of the Jays' flirtation with what could be a Big Ten Conference -- is at the top of the league's list. (I'd also surmise that poaching a team or two from another conference is also on the table.) There's also another important aspect to the language in that press release, pertinently that the "new" Big East will "invite and designate associate members, especially those from the current Big East schools," to participate in the league's lacrosse efforts. Does that mean that Rutgers, which is currently headed for lacrosse parts unknown, could end up, for at least a year, in the "new" Big East? That would be awkward and weird and amazing all at the same time. Of course, if Butler brings back its lacrosse program, this isn't much of a problem. That possibility, though, may just be wishful thinking.
The "new" Big East joins the ECAC as part of Fox's newfound lacrosse properties. Yee-haw.