Pretty interesting news out of Baltimore as Hopkins Director of Athletics Alanna W. Shanahan, along with Blue Jay men’s lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala and women’s lacrosse coach Janine Tucker, announced today the establishment of a Lacrosse Advisory Board.
The advisory board, which will be comprised of 24 individuals, will bring together active leaders and supporters of Hopkins Lacrosse to help the men’s and women’s programs develop a more comprehensive network that will better the lacrosse student-athletes’ undergraduate and postgraduate experience.
The board will help both programs create a mentorship platform, plan internship and professional networking events across the United States, improve communication and engagement with our alumni community and promote and explore new philanthropic initiatives. The board will meet annually in Baltimore and have scheduled conference calls throughout each fiscal year.
Hopkins released the 24 names on the board, and the list includes many notable individuals..
Johns Hopkins Lacrosse Advisory Board.
|David Cordish ‘60||Les Matthews ‘73||Brendan Kelly ‘89||Jeff Barber ’95||Brian Carcaterra ‘00||Matt Dolente ‘10|
|Herb Better ’65||Shellee Nolan ‘75||Jon Marcus ‘96||Dan Denihan ‘00||Sammy Cermack ‘14|
|Jerry Schnydman ‘67||Don Kurz ‘77||Mary Ann Dickson ‘97||Erin Hellmold ‘02|
|Joe Cowan ‘69||David Huntley ‘79||Tracey Brady Yurko ‘97||Erinn Dennis ‘02|
|Sol Kumin ‘99||Adam Doneger ‘03|
|Kyle Harrison ‘05|
|Chris Watson ‘05|
|Paul Rabil ‘08|
Director Shannon provided some more detail about The Board in the release.
We are thrilled to announce the formation of our Lacrosse Advisory Board and we are thankful for the commitment each of the 24 members is making to the long-term success and growth of the Johns Hopkins lacrosse programs. Our commitment to ensuring the members of our men’s and women’s lacrosse programs are enjoying an unparalleled experience on and off the field is unwavering and the formation of the advisory board further demonstrates the importance of lacrosse at Johns Hopkins University.
While I know I am a Hopkins homer, even with my OBJECTIVE JOURNALIST hat on, I think this is a great move by JHU. Hopkins has the Cordish Center, the first lacrosse-only building of its kind in the nation, however, other schools, especially Big Ten schools, are gaining on the Blue Jays when it comes to facilities for their lacrosse teams and Hopkins needs to find other ways to get an edge.
Indeed, Penn State got a nearly $4M gift to build a new stadium early this year, Ohio State invested $40M in a new state-of-art-facility for their Olympic sports which is set to open in 2018, Michigan is getting a brand new lacrosse stadium, and Maryland just unveiled the new Cole Field House, a $155M complex that includes a clinical orthopedic treatment center & an indoor practice facility. Most impressive/worrying if you are a Hopkins fan has to be Rutgers which just embarked on a fundraising campaign to build a lacrosse(and soccer)-specific training complex; the Joneses are definitely making moves to keep pace with Hopkins.
While this board is just in its infancy, its establishment is another signal from the school that it takes lacrosse very seriously. Moreover, while other schools are catching up with Hopkins in terms of brick and mortar projects, mobilizing its human capital & impressive network of former players and alums/friends of the program, is something that can keep Hopkins one or two steps ahead of its Big Ten & national competitors. Lacrosse’s long history at Hopkins is unique in D1, and while it’s probably not that difficult for another elite program to slap together a committee of their all-time greats, I think Maryland, and to a slightly lesser extent Syracuse, are the only two programs that could create a something similar that would equal or surpass Hop’s board in terms of name recognition & impact on the sport.
As it stands now, I’m fairly sure no other D1 school with a men’s lacrosse team has a lacrosse-specific council like the one Hopkins has now, but I could be wrong. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if some school with D1 men’s lacrosse team has a lacrosse-only committee tucked somewhere in their athletic department under multiple, sweaty bags of cash, but I digress. The important thing to focus on today is that a small, scrappy, underdog
school cradle of learning, like The Johns Hopkins University is able to compete with the Goliaths of college athletics and continues to be at the vanguard of D1 lacrosse; it’s a truly powerful and uplifting story in these stressful times. #Blessed
It’s no secret that some members of the Hopkins mob over on LaxPower have gotten a little, shall we say, unsettled about the Blue Jays men’s lacrosse program. Hopkins has been to the Final Four only once since 2008, and there is a sentiment by some alums that the program has dipped recently, notwithstanding that great Philadelphia Final Four run in 2015. Some might call the new board mere window dressing, but I see it as a good good proactive step by the school & the lacrosse programs to demonstrate that they’ve heard/read these concerns and have taken some steps to address them.
One can’t glean too much about the board from the press release, and I doubt a council that meets in person once a year is going to be that involved in the day-to-day running of the programs, but the formation of the board allows for alums that care about Hopkins lacrosse a place to share their concerns or ideas with other like-minded individuals in a formal way and will help to improve communication between the programs & the alumni community.
The last time Hopkins made a committee that was mainly focused on lacrosse was in 2013 when the school created a seven-member committee to explore whether or not Hopkins should pursue conference affiliation. As we all know, the committee recommended that Hopkins join a conference, the Big Ten had a spot open, the men’s lacrosse team agreed to join the Big Ten in 2015 (followed shortly thereafter by the women’s program), and the landscape of college lacrosse hasn’t been the same since.
Hopkins does have some major decisions to make in the near future, which is probably why the school created this board. Indeed, the initial agreement between Hopkins and the Big Ten was only for 5 years, which means it will run out after the 2020 season. Will Hopkins re-up the deal? Will Big Ten purist stage a coup d'état, overthrow Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany, and kick Hopkins out? Could Hop join a different conference (HARD PASS)? I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I have a pretty good feeling that this is going to play some role in the decision-making process regarding conference affiliation.
Additionally, Hopkins and ESPN have (had?) a TV deal that started in 2005 and has been in effect ever since then. The contract was last renewed for four more years in 2013 (“They say it is also critical to protect the university's ties with ESPNU, which broadcasts all Blue Jays home games and recently renewed that relationship for four more years.”), if my math is right, the ESPN contract ended after last season. I’ve looked around and I haven’t seen anything about it being renewed. Will Hop & ESPN renew their deal? The athletic department will probably run point on issues regarding TV contracts, but I could also see the board playing some role in the decision, even if it’s just as an advisory one.
Anyway, it should be an interesting time for Hop fans over the next year and a half. LOTS OF MOVING PARTS! Adam & I will discuss the board, the upcoming 2018 season, and all things Hopkins lacrosse in our soon to be launched Johns Hopkins Lacrossecast (working title).