Johns Hopkins University, with the most wins in college lacrosse history, is joining the Big Ten’s new circuit after 130 years as an independent.
The Park Ridge, Illinois-based conference today announced in an e-mailed statement that it will add men’s and women’s lacrosse as its 27th and 28th official sports. Johns Hopkins will join as an affiliate member in men’s lacrosse only, and both leagues will begin play in the 2014-15 academic year, according to the release.
The Blue Jays finished 9-5 this season, failing to make the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament for the first time since 1971. An independent since its first game in 1883, the Baltimore-based school has won nine NCAA men’s lacrosse titles, second to Syracuse’s 10, and its 922 wins are a record for the college sport, according to the school.
“This decision may represent the single greatest change in Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse in more than a century,” university President Ronald Daniels said today in a release on the school’s athletics page. “I am grateful for the thoughtful process that has led us to this historic place, and I am confident in the success of our shared endeavor in the years to come.”
The moves are the latest expansion of lacrosse from its traditional roots in New York and the Middle Atlantic states. Duke defeated Syracuse for the NCAA championship last week.
The private research institution has about 5,000 undergraduate students. Its $2.6 billion endowment as of June 30, 2012, was the 26th largest, according to a survey by the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund Institute, the school says on its website.
Last month, a seven-member special committee recommended that the university seek conference affiliation, according to the Baltimore Sun.
“Johns Hopkins is an outstanding institution with a legacy of success in men’s lacrosse that is simply unmatched in intercollegiate athletics,” Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany said in the release.
The Blue Jays will join Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and two other new conference members, Rutgers and Maryland, in the Big Ten men’s league, according to the release. The Terrapins, based in College Park about 40 miles south of Baltimore, are leaving the Atlantic Coast Conference, while the Scarlet Knights of New Brunswick, New Jersey, are leaving the Big East.
Playing in the same conference will allow the Terrapins and the Blue Jays to continue their in-state rivalry, which began in 1895 and reached its 110th meeting this year. Since Johns Hopkins plays Division III in all sports except lacrosse, it is the only NCAA sport in which the two schools compete against each other.
“This move allows us to maintain the greatest rivalry in college lacrosse with the University of Maryland, add several nationally recognized programs to our schedule and maintain a number of national and local rivalries we have in place,” Johns Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala said.
With the addition of lacrosse, the Big Ten said its 14 member schools will sponsor almost 350 teams in 42 sports, with almost 9,500 athletes, more than any other conference. The Big Ten will officially add men’s ice hockey this year. The most recent women’s sport added by the conference Ten was rowing in the 1999-2000 academic year.
“Lacrosse is an emerging sport among our current schools and is a long-held passion among our East Coast institutions,” Delany said. “With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers in all sports and Johns Hopkins for men’s lacrosse, we will have the requisite number of institutions to make men’s and women’s lacrosse official conference sports, building upon our tradition of broad-based sports competition.”
Hopkins’ move may also give the Blue Jays a new route to the 16-team NCAA tournament, which gives out automatic qualifying berths to the winners of eight conferences. With six member schools, the Big Ten will receive one of the automatic bids to the postseason, according to the school’s release. The Blue Jays’ 41-year tournament-appearance streak ended this year, when four of their five losses came against NCAA tournament teams.
The Big Ten women’s lacrosse conference will consist of Maryland, Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State, Rutgers and Northwestern. Big Ten rules allow for a conference championship when six institutions sponsor a program, according to the release.