March 12, 2013

Johns Hopkins to Gauge Conference Affiliation

Notre Dame will join ACC on July 1, a year early

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

With conference realignment continuting to alter the college lacrosse landscape, Johns Hopkins is exploring an affiliation for its independent Division I men's program.

Conference realignment has altered the college lacrosse landscape again.

Less than 24 hours after Johns Hopkins announced it has formed a seven-person committee to explore if it should seek conference affiliation for its men's lacrosse program, the Big East and Notre Dame announced the Irish will leave the conference for the ACC in all sports but football and hockey on July 1, a year earlier than expected.

The Irish will now join the ACC on the same date as Syracuse and, for one season at least, be part of even stronger ACC men's and women's lacrosse leagues before Maryland's departure for the Big Ten after the 2013-14 season.

The ACC men's lacrosse lineup next season includes Duke, Maryland, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Syracuse and Virginia. The women: Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Notre Dame, North Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia and Virginia Tech.

The early departure is just another sign of the uncertainty surrounding conference realignment in college athletics. Notre Dame was prepared to remain in the Big East for another season, but that changed on Friday when the "Catholic 7" schools — DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's, Seton Hall and Villanova — announced they would leave July 1 to form their own league, which would keep the Big East name.

Of those schools, only five currently sponsor varsity men's lacrosse programs (Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, St. John's and Villanova) and three have women's teams (Georgetown, Marquette and Villanova).

The current Big East will have a new name by July 1 and include Cincinnati, UConn, Central Florida, Houston, Louisville (leaving for the ACC in 2014-15), Memphis, Rutgers (leaving for the Big Ten in 2014-15), Southern Methodist, Temple and South Florida.

With the latest moving parts and those of the last year or so, Johns Hopkins has determined it is time to explore the possibility of a conference affiliation for its independent Division I men's lacrosse program. The women's program currently is a member of the ALC, but will leave to become an independent after this season.

In a letter to the Johns Hopkins University community distributed Monday night, school president Ronald J. Daniels said "the realities of intercollegiate competition ... compel us as this time to examine whether we should consider affiliating with a conference."

"Some traditional foes have recently announced changes in their own affiliations, changes that might limit their flexibility to continue scheduling games with us. At the same time, growth of the sport at the Division I level has resulted in the formation of more leagues with automatic qualification for the NCAA tournament, potentially limiting post-season opportunities for at-large qualifiers."

One example of a Johns Hopkins' rival changing its league is Maryland, which said in November that it will leave the ACC for the Big Ten for the 2014-15 school year. In the days following the announcement, Maryland coach John Tillman said he would try to "maintain" the Terps strong schedule and traditional rivalries.

But with ongoing changes to the conference landscape, Johns Hopkins isn't taking any chances. The seven person committee — co-chaired by Johns Hopkins alumni Jerry Schnydman ('67) and Chris Watson ('05) and including Chuck Clarvit ('78), David Cordish ('60, '69 (MLA)), Tristan Davies ('87), Mary Ann McGuire Dickson ('97) and Alan Fish — will seek feedback from former players, alumni, students and fans should the university receive a formal invitation from a conference. That has not happened yet, but there have been rumors and discussion of Johns Hopkins potentially joining the Big Ten as an associate member. The Big Ten, once Maryland and Rutgers join, would have five men's programs, one short of being eligible for an NCAA tournament automatic qualifier, and six women's programs.

The full letter announcing the committee is below:

Dear Members of the Johns Hopkins University Community:

This university is known for stellar academic achievement. We are known for groundbreaking scholarship, for compassionate patient care and for sharing our knowledge with the world.

We are also known for our storied lacrosse program.

Our history in the sport is a proud one, dating back on the men's side to 1883, just a few years after the founding of the university itself. We have won 44 national titles, nine of them since lacrosse became an NCAA sport, and we have produced numerous All-Americans, players and coaches of the year, and hall of famers.

In its 130-year history, our men's lacrosse program has never joined a formal league or conference, though we have built up a number of traditional – indeed, historic – rivalries.

The realities of intercollegiate competition, however, compel us at this time to examine whether we should consider affiliating with a conference. Some traditional foes have recently announced changes in their own affiliations, changes that might limit their flexibility to continue scheduling games with us. At the same time, growth of the sport at the Division I level has resulted in the formation of more leagues with automatic qualification for the NCAA tournament, potentially limiting post-season opportunities for at-large qualifiers.

Though we have received no formal invitations, we have been asked by more than one conference if we might be interested in becoming an associate member for men's lacrosse.

We have made no commitments. We have made no decisions. We have concluded only that it is time to consider this question in the Johns Hopkins way: with care, deliberation and transparency.

For that reason, I have appointed the following special committee to gather available information, assess the issue and advise me as to whether we should seek conference affiliation for our men's lacrosse team:

Jerry Schnydman A&S '67, co-chair
Former Executive Assistant to the President and
Secretary to the Board of Trustees

Chris Watson A&S '05, co-chair
Trader, SAC Capital Advisors
Executive Committee, Blue Jays Unlimited Board of Advisors

Chuck Clarvit A&S '78
CEO, Vinci Partners
Member of the Board of Trustees

David Cordish A&S '60, '69 (MLA)
Chairman and CEO, Cordish Enterprises LP

Tristan Davies A&S '87 (MA)
Faculty Athletics Representative
Senior Lecturer, Writing Seminars
The Johns Hopkins University

Mary Ann McGuire Dickson A&S '97
Director, Global Banking and Markets,
Client Prioritization for the Americas,
Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Former President, Blue Jays Unlimited

Alan Fish
Vice President, Real Estate and Campus Services
The Johns Hopkins University

Among the committee's tasks will be to seek the views of members of the university community, both on campus and among our alumni and friends. The committee will soon announce a means for you to share your thoughts with it.

I want to thank everyone on the committee for agreeing to serve in this important matter for our university. I look forward to receiving the committee's report by May 15. Both this report and my decision will be posted online soon thereafter.

Sincerely,

Ronald J. Daniels


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