Having explored the changes Realignment Day (July 1st) 2013 will bring to football, basketball, and hockey, it’s time to delve into the multitude of other NCAA sports teams changing conferences, starting play, and, in one case, disbanding. Many teams will be changing for multiple sports, but this post will focus on the teams changing conferences unrelated to the school’s other teams, or for single-sport conferences adding or losing teams as a result of their teams schools changing between two unrelated conferences. Let’s get started, shall we?
Baseball: With the WAC disintegrating, the Dallas Baptist baseball team, competing at D-I while their school is D-II, decided to pursue other conferences. They found a home in the Missouri Valley Conference starting next season. While the WAC was collapsing, the Great West collapsed even quicker, and when most of the multi-sport teams moved to the WAC, baseball affiliates North Dakota and Northern Colorado moved with them, joining fellow Big Sky team Cal State Sacramento.
Field Hockey: With Rutgers, Louisville, Connecticut, and Temple all remaining in/joining the American, a home was needed for their field hockey teams, which were not sponsored by the AAC. Common sense and goodwill won out, as the new Big East opened their doors to their former brethren, inviting them to join. For Rutgers and Louisville, this will only be for the year, as they will move on to the Big Ten and ACC, both of which sponsor field hockey. The Big East also invited Old Dominion, whose other teams are moving to non-field hockey Conference USA, to add its team to the mix.
Men’s Lacrosse: With the Atlantic Sun’s first women’s lacrosse championship happening this year, the time was right to announce the sponsorship of Men’s Lacrosse, starting in the 2013-14 season. Jacksonville and VMI moved from the MAAC, Mercer and High Point joined from independence, and Richmond and Furman joined from club-level action. While this would normally have left the MAAC with 5 teams, Quinnipiac is joining from the NEC in all sports, so the NEC will be stuck with 5 teams. This may be temporary, as ECAC Lacrosse loses two of its marquee teams, as Denver moves to the Big East for lacrosse only, while Loyola Maryland moves all of its teams to the Patriot League. ECAC is set to lose Michigan and Ohio State to the Big Ten once they start in 2014, as well as Fairfield to the CAA, leaving the final three teams to expand or disband. Finally, Rutgers’ men’s lacrosse team moves from the Big East to the…Big East…for one season before packing its bags for the Big Ten next year.
Women’s Lacrosse: Similar to the situation in field hockey above, Rutgers, Louisville, UConn, Temple and Old Dominion, as well as Cincinnati, will be part of the new Big East this coming year, though again, Rutgers and Louisville are just for this year. One former Big East women’s lacrosse team that won’t be making the jump is Loyola Maryland who, like their spear counterparts, will join the Patriot League. Finally, Colorado is launching a brand new women’s lacrosse team in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (which is basically a catch-all conference for olympic sports teams whose home conferences don’t sponsor their sport), so best of luck to them in their new endeavor.
Men’s Soccer: With the WAC no longer able to sponsor football, another men’s field sport was needed to take its place. Fortunately, four of its 2013-14 teams – Seattle, CSU Bakersfield, Grand Canyon, and UMKC – all sponsor men’s soccer, so it was the ideal choice. They filled out their ranks from the MPSF, inviting 2013-14 Mountain West all-sports members Air Force, San Jose State and UNLV, as well as former Great West and soon-to-be Southland Conference member Houston Baptist. With six of its eight teams heading to the WAC, and Denver heading to the Summit League, the MPSF ended sponsorship of men’s soccer, with remaining member New Mexico joining Conference USA, alongside former MAC team and full C-USA member Florida Atlantic. On a sadder note, Richmond’s addition of men’s lacrosse meant the elimination of their men’s soccer and men’s track and field teams for financial, admissions, and Title IX considerations.
Softball: With the addition of Pacific, the West Coast Conference now had six softball teams, enough to sponsor the sport and provide the all-important automatic bid. The other five schools were members of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference, which closed up shop after this year’s tournament. The remaining two schools, CSU Bakersfield and Utah Valley, were both heading to the softball-sponsoring WAC, so the only casualty was the conference itself, which had already been crippled by the Big Sky conference adding softball for this past season.
Wrestling: With the departure of all-sports members Old Dominion and George Mason, the CAA closed the book on its wrestling sponsorship. Old Dominion had already been accepted into the MAC, and the EIWA snapped up CAA full members Drexel and Hofstra, as well as affiliate members Binghamton and Boston U. This brought the league up to an astounding 18 teams for 2013-14, though Rutgers will leave for the Big Ten next year and Boston U. may not have a wrestling team after this year. The leftover teams, George Mason and Rider, were picked up by the EWL sometime later.
And the Rest: The Coastal Collegiate Swim Association lost College of Charleston this year for men’s and women’s swimming and diving, with their teams joining their other teams in the CAA. The CCSA will lose Davidson next year to the A-10 for the same reasons. The Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association lost San Diego State and Sacramento State’s women’s rowing teams to Conference USA. Houston, new to The American, will launch their women’s golf team this year in that conference. Finally, there appears to be some unconfirmed possibilities that the WAC women’s gymnastics teams would be forming their own conference, but this humble reporter was unable to find any official announcements as of yet.
And with that, my first run-up to Realignment Day is complete. In the next few days, I will post my inaugural predictions for the new year, my thoughts on where realignment is headed, and how the Realignment Blog will meet the challenges of a post-ACC-Grant-of-Rights realignment world. See you then!