Michigan Lax: League foe Loyola leaving ECAC for Patriot League

Submitted by Wolverine Devotee on October 3rd, 2012 at 8:49 PM

This news has really flown under the radar. It has been covered by no major media.

But Loyola, the defending national champions, has announced they will leave the ECAC in the 2014 season. Last year Michigan lost 15-8 to the greyhounds when they visited Ann Arbor. This is a big blow to the conference.

The ECAC just added their 8th member this year in Michigan. Now the ECAC will go back to a 7-team conference after this season. I'm starting to think that the ECAC may extend and invitation to another school to get to 8 members. I'm thinking they may offer detroit. Would create an in-state rivalry with Michigan that started last year, and they are a program trending upward.

http://www.collegecrosse.com/2012/8/29/3276753/loyola-patriot-league-ecac-maac-lacrosse-2013-2014-greyhounds

Comments

WolvinLA2

October 3rd, 2012 at 8:54 PM ^

I don't want to sound like that guy - but wasn't this news months ago?  I know sometimes MGoBlog is behind on the lax stuff so maybe it wasn't posted here, but I really thought it was.

IrishLax

October 4th, 2012 at 6:06 PM ^

Very old news and really a neutral effect on Michigan... if anything, it makes the Wolverines' road to the NCAA tournament much easier because Denver is the only "top 10" team in the ECAC they would have to go through to get the AQ.

There is very little to no incentive for the ECAC to look into adding Detroit and I would strongly doubt that happens.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:24 PM ^

Eh, blow, schmow.  The ECAC has basically always been a holding bin for schools that don't fit anywhere else, until they can get a better deal.  The best-case scenario really is for it to evolve into another GWLL, only less contrived and with better permanence.

WolvinLA2

October 3rd, 2012 at 9:31 PM ^

I'm just hoping a few more Big Ten schools can add lacrosse so we can have a Big Ten lacrosse league.  That would be awesome.  

My guesses, for discussion sake:

MSU - they have the strongest  club team of all of the Big Ten schools (now that we aren't there).

Northwestern - Great women's program, Chicago is starting to get good HS lax, desireable destination for East Coast kids.

Minnesota - Minneapolis getting good HS lacrosse, close to Colorado for recruiting.  

If not Minnesota, then Wisconsin for a lot of the same reasons.  Wisco could recruit Minneapolis, Colorado and Chicago well, and has the reputation and academics to pull kids from the East Coast.

6 teams would get us an auto-bid.  Let's make it happen Big Ten!

WolvinLA2

October 3rd, 2012 at 10:14 PM ^

Yeah, it'll take a while, but as lax explodes in many of the Big Ten states (and the West Coast where the Big Ten has as big an influence as any other lax schools), I bet we see a Big Ten team add the sport about once every 3-5 years.

In the meantime, though, a western league would be a great idea. UM, OSU, Denver, AFA, probably Bellarmine and Detroit. Penn State being in our league would be cool too.

michlaxref

October 4th, 2012 at 8:58 AM ^

Michigan went D1 because of the demographics fit, a progressive AD, and an energized alumni base due to JP's efforts.  The club program was also an affect of this.  Do not expect a strong club program at MSU to create the D1 team.  The club at MSU has very little ties to the athletic administration there. 

There are some strong alumni supporters for D1 lacrosse at MSU but they are not working with the club.

The best demographics to fit lacrosse would be Northwestern.  But I think more BCS teams will have to show up before the other B1G ADs get serious about lacrosse.  When USC and Texas start programs then maybe the schools like Illinois and Minnesota will start thinking about it. 

Michigan needs to be in a strong conference for the competition for development and rankings.  A B1G league would not serve that purpose for many, many years. 

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

October 4th, 2012 at 10:04 AM ^

I agree that a club team alone isn't a very good driver of whether or not a team goes D-I.  It takes an athletic department leadership that actively wants the sport, and Michigan was a unique case.  That said, it's certainly a leg up over teams that don't have a solid club team.  Richmond has just announced a D-I team for 2014 (sadly, they cut their men's soccer and track teams to do it) and a healthy, viable club team that was already quasi-varsity was one of the motivators.  In other words, it wasn't quite exactly like Michigan's leap, but they did follow portions of the blueprint.

laxalum

October 4th, 2012 at 10:33 AM ^

Don't hold your breath for B1G lax unless it happens through expansion.  I doubt any of the current schools that don't have men's lacrosse are close to adding.

Wahoo is right.  The ECAC is a transient conference.  Always has been.  A new southern conference, if it happens, could pull away Bellarmine.  Hobart and Fairfield could find better geographical fits.  Michigan and Ohio State could pull out to join Penn State in a conference of bigger football names if other BCS schools add the sport.  I think adding Detroit would be a temporary fix at best.  Michigan needs a conference full of programs that have similar goals (championships) and the support to get there.  Without Loyola, the ECAC only gives them OSU and Denver (and possibly Fairfield) in that category.

Sucks to lose Loyola, but Michigan will be able to schedule strong RPI opponents in out of conference games because of the name.

WolvinLA2

October 4th, 2012 at 1:29 PM ^

I guess I'm more optimistic than others about Big Ten schools adding D1 lacrosse. With the growing popularity and ability to televise (BTN has very little live coverage in the spring) it seems like at least a couple Big Ten schools would jump on that.

The money the Big Ten would get from televising the bigger games and the Big Ten tournament would pay for these teams to get their programs started. Not to mention that lax is a sport these schools could probably get 2k or so fans to attend, it seems lax could be self sufficient or close within a decade.

laxalum

October 4th, 2012 at 3:05 PM ^

Wolv,

I don't know how much money you think is in lacrosse coverage, but adding some regular season games and a tournament on BTN isn't going to increase revenue.  What do you think ad spots go for on lacrosse games?  My guess is the BTN has advertising contracts that cover a lot of their non-revenue sport programming, and those contracts are for peanuts compared to their football and basketball coverage.  Adding a few lacrosse games probably isn't the money tree you are implying it is.

Adding sports isn't easy.  I would imagine that most Big Ten schools are focused on finding money to stay with what Michigan has done with their major sport facilities.  Then they need to find money to keep up with what Michigan is about to do with all of their non-revenue sport facilities.  Then maybe they can think about finding money to add men's and women's sport budgets, scholarships, coaches, support staff and facilities.

Or they could do it how Richmond is doing it I suppose...and cut other sports to make way for lacrosse.  

WolvinLA2

October 4th, 2012 at 3:49 PM ^

It's possible I'm being overly optimistic, but here's my line of thinking. During the lax season, BTN plays a lot of nothing, in fact I almost never go to the channel. I'm willing to bet they can get a lot for for advertising from Michigan-Northwestern or OSU-MSU lacrosse games than from a replay of top WRs of the 90's which people will either not watch or DVR. Not only that, but each Big Ten team would probably have a game or two against good OOC teams that could get a good TV draw.

In California, people are getting pretty crazy about lacrosse, and most people out here have BTN now. If there was college lacrosse on regularly, a lot of people outside of the Big Ten will still tune in to check it out.

If teams like Jacksonville, Furman, Richmond and Marquette can add lacrosse, why can't huge athletic departments like MSU, Wisconsin or Indiana? I'm not saying it will happen in the next couple years, but within a decade.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

October 4th, 2012 at 6:43 PM ^

If teams like Jacksonville, Furman, Richmond and Marquette can add lacrosse, why can't huge athletic departments like MSU, Wisconsin or Indiana?

Easy: they're not spending gobs of money on football.  I'll believe that there's a breakthrough ready to happen when a full-fledged I-A program other than Michigan (which for obvious reasons isn't representative) adds the sport.  Til then, all the new programs we've seen in the past five or so years range from no football (Marquette, BU), to non-scholarship football (Jax), to I-AA football (Richmond, Furman, and we know how Richmond got there.)

IMO the next "hotbed" for D-I lax expansion is the South.  You see these smaller schools like Furman, Mercer, High Point all adding the sport.  It's too bad Presbyterian couldn't hang on longer because had they done so there would already be a critical mass for a southern conference (Jax, Mercer, Furman, HP, VMI, Presby.)  I bet we see more schools like that giving it a go.

BTW, I think the truth about TV revenue lies somewhere between your opinion and laxalum's.  I think you could certainly get some ESPN money or BTN money for interest in B1G lacrosse, just given the sheer size of the alumni bases.  Enough to fully cover the expenses of a program?  Highly unlikely; only a very small handful of the most elite lax programs are revenue neutral.

WolvinLA2

October 4th, 2012 at 7:08 PM ^

I guess that shows how much I know, since I would have assumed that having a football program that makes a lot of money (and to a lesser extent, basketball) would make it easier to start a non-revenue sport.  I know big schools throw a lot of money at football facilities and what not, but not all of it, every year.  

I guess I didn't think that the TV revenue would make lacrosse revenue neutral from the start, but that TV money would subsidize it, easing the financial burden as compared to a different sport that is never televised.  

It also could be wishful thinking on my part.  I'd love to see Big Ten lacrosse, especially on TV since I can't go to the games.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

October 4th, 2012 at 9:07 PM ^

I guess that shows how much I know, since I would have assumed that having a football program that makes a lot of money (and to a lesser extent, basketball) would make it easier to start a non-revenue sport.

Title IX, yo.  It doesn't care how much Sport X brings in.  It only cares that you spend money on it.  Schools that aren't mega-heavyweights in the revenue department (M, Ohio, Texas but they won't be starting lax any time soon) have a hard time balancing out the football with enough women's sports.

michlaxref

October 4th, 2012 at 2:21 PM ^

With Laxalum. And Detroit was in the running for an NCAA berth in their own confernce so they probably aren't looking to leave.

I don't know if Furman has declared where they intend to go for league affiliation.  They won't be championship material for some time but with a coach like Richie Meade they certainly aren't thinking about just participating.  Michigan will hopefully be ready much sooner but Furman might be a choice.

That and it would be a nice place to go for a game in the early part of the season.....

WolvinLA2

October 4th, 2012 at 7:14 PM ^

For all you lacrosse nuts - how many teams would need to add lacrosse to expand the NCAA field to 32 teams?  The formation of two or three more leagues would probably do it, IMO, since there wouldn't be many at-large spots left at that point.

L'Carpetron Do…

October 4th, 2012 at 11:30 PM ^

Good question.  There are only about 60 or so teams now, and the good news is is that number has been trending upwards over the last few years (about 10 years ago schools were dropping the sport).

You're right - 3 more conferences to expand to 32 sounds right.  

I think the overall trend will continue over the next 10 years (and Michigan's addition of lacrosse can't be overstated).  More schools will add it than cut it.  

In the extreme long run (20+ years) lacrosse could become a revenue-generating sport.  A lot of forward-looking ADs, especially at schools without football, may want to add the sport to get ahead of the curve.

Michigan will be the trailblazer for schools like Florida or UCLA, but Marquette may be the real trendsetter.  Its a decent school with a good athletic tradition in an area where the sport is growing.  BU , a similar school, is also adding lacrosse.  Schools like GW, American, Fordham, Columbia, Xavier and DePaul fit that mold as well.  UConn, GT (always rumored to be going D-1), Cinci and NW seem like they could pull it off too.     But, its wishful thinking on my part.   

The sad thing is that State, BC, VT and NC State all had programs back in the day.

michlaxref

October 4th, 2012 at 11:56 PM ^

There is a great deal of interest in Lacrosse at Texas.  They just spent $4 milliion dollars to renovate a rec sports area.  It is now called the Caven Lacrosse and Sports Center at Clark FIeld.  Used for other sports and activities? sure.  But those artist renditions and the lines on the field at dedication were lacrosse field markings.

Wolv, this may be one of those places where the club helps bring a varsity program to the school.  Texas adding might even be a bigger deal than Michigan adding. The Aggies in that state would be salivating as well....

http://www.utrecsports.org/facilities/locations/ccf.php

WolvinLA2

October 5th, 2012 at 1:05 PM ^

Conventional wisdom would suggest this is a long way off, but Tim at greatlaxstate.com linked ot an article suggesting USC might be close as well.  They have an incredible talent pool in CA to pull from, and not another D1 program within 1000 miles.  

The problem - there isn't another D1 program within 1000 miles, so finding teams to play will be a challenge until other left coast schools start a program.  

That said, I bet a handful of schools would be willing to play a game at USC to improve the rep with CA recruits (like ND does in football) and the two CO schools aren't that far away. 

With the amount of popularity for HS lacrosse that exists out here, and considering that every West Coast school, big or small, has a club team (and they dominate MCLA) I bet D1 lax isn't too far off out here.  

michlaxref

October 5th, 2012 at 10:59 PM ^

The other thought is Stanford where again the same demographics that made Michigan a good fit for lacrosse could see Stanford adopt.  Stanford has plenty of big young money that could fund a new sport. 

But you are right that the geography is an issue. That didn't stop USC from elevating women's lacrosse to a varsity status.  But adding Women's lacrosse beforehand doesn't help because now you already have the women's roster counted for Title IX so you don't have that sport to add to balance the addition of the Mens roster which is larger and acutally needs more than a womens team roster to get equal participation.

And as you mention we have Air Force and Denver in Colorado.  They put a lot of fans in a stadium for the CSU vs Colorado game each year.  With Denver's rise and the general high popularity of lacrosse in Colorado, those two state schools should consider it.

The way Richmond added Men's lacrosse was interesting.  They actually cut men's soccer.  That to me is unthinkable due to soccer's popularity.  But Richmond said that they had a far better chance of getting close to a championship because while there are many D1 soccer teams there are 60 something D1 lacrosse teams.