Both Penn State men’s and women’s lacrosse are set to join a newly formed Big Ten lacrosse conference beginning in the spring of 2015.
The men’s program, coming off a 12-5 season that ended with a loss to Yale in the first round of the NCAA tournament, will spend one more season in the Colonial Athletic Association conference before switching over to the highly competitive Big Ten that will include perennial powerhouse Johns Hopkins.
The four other men’s programs making the formation of a conference possible are Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, and Rutgers.
“Our staff is thrilled about the formation of the Big Ten Lacrosse Conference,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni, coming off his second season in Happy Valley after previously presiding over Cornell’s program. “It is symbolic of the expansion of our sport and the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Penn State lacrosse.”
The women’s team, fresh off a strong 14-7 season that ended with a loss to Northwestern in the NCAA quarterfinals, will play the 2014 in the American Lacrosse Conference.
“I am so excited for the future of Big Ten women’s lacrosse, ” said head coach Missy Doherty in a release. “As our sport expands across the country, it has been great to see so many institutions value and embrace the sport.”
“As a result, we now have lacrosse represented in one of the best conferences in the country. We’re grateful to the ALC for providing our program the opportunity to compete against the best teams in the nation and we’re looking forward to embracing our new role as a Big Ten program.”
The only difference in terms of conference opponents for the women is that Northwestern will be included and Johns Hopkins will not.
The conference programs on the men’s side currently combine for 11 national championships (Johns Hopkins 9, Maryland 2). Northwestern or Maryland took home a national championship on the women’s side for eight consecutive seasons until North Carolina put a stop to the streak this past spring.
To put into perspective the significance of Johns Hopkins joining the conference for lacrosse, the Blue Jays’ program has existed since 1883, won 44 championships counting several titles prior to the NCAA lacrosse era, and qualified for the tournament in 41 straight seasons dating back to 1972.
“We look forward to continuing to build partnerships with the other Big Ten schools sponsoring lacrosse,” said Penn State athletic director David Joyner. “It’s a great pleasure to welcome Johns Hopkins as an affiliate member; an institution with tremendous academics and lacrosse achievement.”
While a schedule is not yet made, the combination of a storied program in Johns Hopkins and a Penn State program on the rise soon playing in the same conference make for exciting times in Happy Valley when it comes to lacrosse.
For statements from others regarding the announcement including Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, click here.