When the ECAC collapsed it was Air Force that was left without a home. Ohio State and Michigan skedaddled for the Big Ten's new lacrosse concern, Hobart made a beeline for the Northeast Conference, Bellarmine found a home in what will become the Southern Conference's lacrosse effort, and Fairfield oiled up its nail gun and braced itself for THUNDERDOME! competition. The Falcons -- the conference's last tournament champion -- were destined for a life of infinite independence, roaming the land and foraging for opponents like early lacrosse settlers.
As it turns out, though, Air Force will only operate as an independent for one season. In 2016, the Falcons will shelter in the Southern Conference:
The United States Air Force Academy will join the Southern Conference as an associate member for men’s lacrosse for the 2016 season, SoCon Commissioner John Iamarino announced Monday.
"The addition of the Air Force Academy will make us a stronger, deeper lacrosse league," Iamarino said. "There has been great cooperation by all parties to bring this about. We’re very pleased to provide a conference home for Air Force lacrosse beginning in 2016."
Air Force, currently an independent, will bring the SoCon’s men’s lacrosse membership to eight in 2016. The league will sponsor lacrosse for the first time this season, with full members Furman, Mercer and VMI joined by associate members Bellarmine, High Point, Jacksonville and Richmond.
The addition of Air Force to the Southern Conference will help shape a league dotted with baby faces: As the conference's senior member (VMI has the second oldest program in the league having started their lacrosse existence in 1983 while the Falcons fired up their program in 1967), Air Force will have an opportunity to serve as a tent pole program for the conference as the league's membership develops. There's a different feel about the SoCon with the Falcons in the fold, even if Air Force is a pedestrian 54-83 over the last 10 years.
With Air Force destined for a league in just one season's time, the only Division I program without a current or future home are the NJIT Highlanders. As there can be only one Highlander, the prophecy is complete.