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The Scheduling Crunch

The Division III scheduling experience has all kinds of parallels to Division I lacrosse.

The best work of lacrosse writing this season may belong to Lacrosse Magazine and Jac Coyne. In a monster piece that takes a deep and detailed look into the scheduling situation that many Division III programs face, Coyne does a tremendous job at illustrating an aspect of college lacrosse that many overlook or don't understand: Agenda creation. Coyne's piece focuses on six themes that Division III programs must deal with when composing a slate:
  • The desire -- and need -- to put quality competition on the nonconference portion of a team's agenda.
  • The issues that conferences -- both pressure/control from conferences and the reality of fixed dates for league games -- create with respect to schedule constitution in totem.
  • Budget restrictions that often impede the ability to travel to quality competition.
  • Academic calendar restrictions that limit a program's ability to compose a schedule.
  • Relationship restrictions and limitations -- both between athletic departments and coaches -- that drive a team's ability to finalize a desired slate.
  • Agreement issues between programs that maintain uncertain futures and malleable lengths.

While Coyne's piece concentrates on Division III lacrosse, the Division I parallels are clear: Scheduling issues don't exist in a vacuum. There are flashpoints of this all over college lacrosse's highest level of play:

  • Syracuse won't play Princeton this season for the first time in 15 years. This is, in all likelihood, a residue of conference realignment.
  • Johns Hopkins is going to have a completely different agenda in 2015 due to its participation in the Big Ten's lacrosse concern, a move that was made to provide the program with an NCAA Tournament safety net should an at-large invitation look bleak. Many traditional names may be missing from the Blue Jays' schedule next season.
  • Marquette didn't play any intersquad fall games this past autumn due to budget concerns and will only play five home dates -- four against Big East competition -- this coming spring.

And it goes on and on and on. Scheduling is a variable that creates all kinds of complications and consequences, situations that fans must simply accept. These agenda-setting obstacles are a struggle to overcome, and with the paradigm remaining volatile, the only consistency inherent in the condition is that it will remain notably absent: The continued growth of conferences, made-for-television games, postseason-driven dates, and a host of other concerns will not only promote the scheduling crunch but arguably heighten it. This is a complex issue, and fans will need to be flexible with respect to its ramifications.