The Big East added Denver to fill out a six-team Lacrosse league and to ensure that there would be no real risk of losing their access to the post-season. While that move solidified the Big East league, it didn't resolve the biggest question in NCAA Lacrosse realignment: Where is John's Hopkins headed?
The answer should come today, according to Inside Lacrosse, with the Jays signing off on a deal to be the crucial sixth member of a Big Ten lacrosse conference that allows that league to obtain status within the NCAA pecking order in that sport. That league will include Maryland, Rutgers, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan in addition to Hopkins.
This ends 130 years of independence for the program, and ends the chances of the Big East landing the storied program. The school has gone through a long process through the last few months in an attempt to determine its conference future for men's lacrosse. Having access to an AQ through a conference was a key component, as the Blue Jays missed the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1971 this Spring.
As a part of the arrangement, JHU will move it's women's lacrosse team to a new Big Ten in 2014, and play men's lacrosse in the conference starting with 2015.
Hopkins was reportedly looking at a number of conference opportunities, including the Big East, but the addition of Denver to the largely-Catholic league may have pushed them out of contention. The ACC would have been a fine option as well, with storied programs at UNC, Duke and Syracuse and a relatively-regional geographic footprint, but those qualities weren't enough to sway the Jays either.
With all of their other teams playing at the Division III level, Hopkins is more of an academic powerhouse than an athletic one, and the Big Ten is a research-university's dream. If Hopkins can parlay their lacrosse membership into participation in the conference's research consortium (the CIC), then they can potentially shift their already strong academic output into a new gear. Academically, it would also align them once again with the University of Chicago, who they were athletically affiliated with in the past through the University Athletic Association conference.
In the process, the formation of a Big Ten lacrosse league will effectively kill the ECAC Lacrosse conference. Both Michigan and Ohio State will now depart the ECAC along with Denver (joining the Big East) and Loyola (joining the Patriot League); leaving ECAC with just Fairfield, Bellarmine, Air Force and Hobart, all of whom will likely now seek new homes for their teams.