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Conference Realignment: Rutgers Accepts Invitation to the Big Ten, Lacrosse Future not Defined

Benjamins don't come with a lacrosse to-do list, unfortunately.


It was implied from the beginning of the Big Ten's overtures toward Maryland, but the Daily News is going on the record with the fact: Rutgers -- an all-sports member of the Big East Conference since 1995 -- is going to be a member of the Big Ten:

Tuesday will be a historic day for Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights’ Board of Governors has voted to authorize AD Tim Pernetti to accept a formal invitation to join the Big Ten when it arrives this morning. Sources indicate a press conference has been scheduled for 2 p.m. today.

Rutgers, a long-time member of the Big East, will join Maryland — which announced Monday it was moving — as the 13th and 14th members of this mega-conference. The move not only will create financial security for Rutgers athletics, it could eventually make the Knights a major brand name on the East Coast in all sports.

While Maryland has announced it will begin play in the Big Ten in the 2014-15 season, Rutgers reportedly will attempt to pay the Big East a $10 million to $20 million exit fee and join its new conference as early as possible.

Like the Terps, the Scarlet Knights' lacrosse future is somewhat undefined. As Lacrosse Magazine and Inside Lacrosse have noted -- along with this fancy pants site -- it doesn't appear as if the Big Ten is going to charge at a men's lacrosse conference until a sixth participating program -- either in-house or affiliated in some way -- is found. That leaves Rutgers in a precarious position under second-year head coach Brian Brecht: What do the Scarlet Knights do? There are options here for Rutgers, but it's unclear the strength of each option.

Independence: With increased importance attached to scheduling these days (due in part to a crowded NCAA Tournament field), Rutgers attempting to go it on their own -- especially with an undistinguished recent history -- is a rough proposition for the Scarlet Knights. Unlike Maryland, Rutgers doesn't have a substantial amount of cachet where their phone will always ring with opponents looking for a game. I'd have to think that this is an unattractive option for the Scarlet Knights, but one they may need to pursue.

Affiliation: This is where things are tricky. It seems unlikely that the Big East would keep Rutgers on as a lacrosse-only simply to keep the league's automatic invitation to the NCAA Tournament (middle fingers don't tend to operate as peaceful diplomacy). So, where do the Scarlet Knights turn? Rutgers is a former member of the ECAC, but at eight teams currently -- with Loyola leaving next season and other potential league members (Maryland? Richmond? Other Big East teams potentially looking for a home due to the looming doom surrounding their universe?) sitting in the wings -- would the ECAC want to bloat to a near double-digit membership or more? The same issue lies with potential membership in THUNDERDOME! The MAAC would likely take in Rutgers with open arms, but where Brecht wants to take the Scarlet Knights probably differs in substantial ways to where many of the MAAC's institutions are currently competitvely located (despite the fact that the MAAC recently identified lacrosse as a "core sport"). Then there's the entire issue of Big Ten lacrosse and whether that conference will eventually sponsor men's lacrosse: Would a conference like the ECAC or THUNDERDOME! want to assume a Rutgers program that hasn't done a hell of a lot recently only to see that Rutgers program depart after an indeterminable number of years after being a bit of a leech? It's a complicated situation without a lot of definites.

Detonante a Nuclear Weapon on the Lacrosse Program and Leverage the Athletic Department Deeper in the Red to Pursue Only Football: Probably unlikely, although it is the ultimate lacrosse problem solver in conference realignment.