Morning Jac: Mustangs Move to the MAC
For lacrosse fans, the move is appears odd. Why would Stevenson move out of the Capital Athletic Conference -- and terminate the best contemporary inter-conference rivalry in Division III -- to join the MAC, which could be generously referred to as a "mid-major?"
Alas, Thursday's announcement had very little to do with the lacrosse programs. While there are certainly some benefits to Stevenson's move to its new conference, including the opening of recruiting doors in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, the men's lacrosse team had carved out a nice little niche in its current digs.
Because of his role at the Owings Mills, Md., school, Stevenson head coach Paul Cantabene took a broader perspective when evaluating the move.
"As an associate AD in charge of nine sports, plus all of the athletic facilities, I had to separate my personal thoughts about how it would affect my program and think how it would benefit the department as a whole on few different levels," he wrote in an email on Thursday evening.
It is a good move from a school-wide perspective. It helps rid the department of associate memberships -- the Mustangs are already partial members of the MAC in football and women's golf -- and it also opens up NCAA automatic qualifying opportunities for sports that couldn't get them while affiliated with the CAC.
In addition, Cantabene wasn't conceding that this was a negative move for the men's lacrosse team. He believes the MAC is more consistent with the academic mission of the school and that it will decrease travel and missed class time for the players. He also said that the MAC is one of the elite conferences in Division III.
While the last posit is certainly true -- taking into consideration all sports, the MAC has boasted some dominant programs -- it's not the reason I would cite for joining the league from a lacrosse perspective. I would pinpoint the fact that the MAC undoubtedly has the most potential of any conference out there. All the MAC needed was an anchor team for the rest of the league to emulate, and now they have it.
This move is going to have a larger impact on the CAC, which also loses Hood, than it will Stevenson. And, obviously, it brings into question whether the Stevenson-Salisbury rivalry will continue.
"Keeping Salisbury on our schedule will definitely be a priority for our program," said Cantabene, who noted that he had yet to speak with Sea Gull coach Jim Berkman about extending the contest past the Mustangs' departure from the CAC in 2013. "We also will be trying to keep out-of-conference games with Lynchburg, Tufts, Cortland, Denison and Western New England."
The men's lacrosse team was just along for the ride in Stevenson's transition to the MAC, but it may work out just fine for the Mustangs.
Best & Worst
Best part about today: It's the start of championship weekend and I'm ready. There are all sorts of fascinating Division III games this weekend, but the MCLA is particularly jammed with key games tonight. I'm very much looking forward to it.
Worst part about today: Boo-ya. Nothing wrong with today.