The Atlantic Sun and Bellarmine got together this holiday weekend, ate some ribs, and apparently hashed out all the remaining details about forming a lacrosse-only relationship:
The Atlantic Sun Conference announced today that Bellarmine University is the newest affiliate member of the Atlantic Sun Conference and will begin play in men's lacrosse in the 2014-15 season.
Bellarmine becomes the seventh men's lacrosse program for the A-Sun, as the Knights will compete with Furman, High Point, Jacksonville, Mercer, Richmond and VMI for the 2014-15 A-Sun Men's Lacrosse Championship.
This move made sense ever since teams started packing their bags and moving to slightly different locales. Bellarmine, Division I's only program in Kentucky (paging Louisville: You're wanted at the college game's highest level), seemed like a strong fit for the Atlantic Sun after that conference decided to sponsor the sport and the ECAC started to crumble. The Knights should square nicely in the Atlantic Sun and is a contender for a trip to the NCAA Tournament as the league's automatic qualifier based on the current constitution of the conference.
Speaking of the crumbling nightmare that is the ECAC, Bellarmine's departure date from that league -- 2015 -- does create a potential delay to the ultimate demise of the conference:
Likely means ECAC keeps ’14 AQ. @OhioState_MLAX & @StagsMensLax relieved MT @Inside_Lacrosse A-Sun confirms @BellarmineLax will start in ’15— Terry Foy (@TerenceFoy) July 8, 2013
Unless something drastically changes in the not-too-distant future, the ECAC will enter 2014 with Air Force (no future home as of yet), Bellarmine (Atlantic Sun in 2015), Fairfield (THUNDERDOME! in 2015), Michigan (Big Ten in 2015), and Ohio State (Big Ten in 2015) on the membership roll. That's a decent league, but it's one that won't exist -- save for a ridiculous level of realignment and/or the promotion of teams to the Division I level with the ECAC as their launch pad -- past next season. The obvious variables here are Air Force's future plans (if a condition to the Falcons' membership in a new league -- if they find one -- requires immediate participation) and Fairfield's relationship with THUNDERDOME! (St. Joseph's will depart THUNDERDOME! for the 2014 season, charting a course to the NEC and potentially opening a path for the Stags to pursue THUNDERDOME! membership a year earlier than originally planned). Both could shake the foundation of the ECAC to the point of no repair.