JHU Men’s Lacrosse Joins the Big Ten

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Here’s the letter that Johns Hopkins president Ronald Daniels sent to alumni announcing the university’s men’s lacrosse team’s conference jump:

A few weeks ago, I announced plans to seek a conference affiliation for the university’s men’s lacrosse team, a decision that was based on a recommendation from a special committee charged with examining all aspects of this issue. Today, I am very pleased to announce that I have accepted an offer from the presidents and chancellors of the Big Ten to have Johns Hopkins join the conference as a sport affiliate member for men’s lacrosse.

This is an important moment for both Johns Hopkins and Big Ten men’s lacrosse. For the first time, the Big Ten has welcomed a university into its ranks to participate in a single sport. For the first time, there will be formal Big Ten competition in men’s lacrosse. And for the first time, after more than 130 years of independent participation at the highest levels of the sport, the regular season schedule for our Blue Jays will include league games.

You will recall that I convened a special committee of alumni, former Blue Jay lacrosse players and other Johns Hopkins leaders and stakeholders to consider the question of conference affiliation. That committee wrote a report recommending that we pursue affiliate membership in a conference, citing in particular the rapid growth of lacrosse and the dramatically changing landscape of NCAA Division I athletics as reasons to reconsider independence.

For example, changes in the conference affiliations of traditional rivals threaten our ability to keep them on the Blue Jay schedule in years to come. In addition, with so many leagues now eligible for an automatic qualifying spot in the NCAA Division I Championship, it seemed imprudent to become the only school denying our student-athletes, alumni and fans two qualification routes into the post-season. You can find the report, which I ultimately accepted, here.

The special committee looked into several possible conference affiliations in the course of its deliberations. In the end, Athletics Director Tom Calder and Coach Dave Pietramala recommended that Johns Hopkins join the Big Ten for several reasons, including:

  • We are a good fit with the Big Ten institutions, research universities with whom — in most cases — we already share close connections through the Association of American Universities;
  • The commitment of the Big Ten and its members to the academic success of student-athletes;
  • The opportunity for Johns Hopkins to help to launch Big Ten lacrosse play, including the adoption of competition rules and procedures;
  • The opportunity for Johns Hopkins to contribute to the creation of the league’s lacrosse culture, bringing to bear the experience of our 44 national championships and the traditions and history of the nation’s most successful lacrosse program;
  • The chance to continue a historic series with arch-rival Maryland, which is also joining the Big Ten;
  • The conference’s understanding and encouragement of our desire to maintain as many of our other traditional rivalries as possible;
  • The conference’s understanding and encouragement of our desire to maintain our agreement with ESPNU for national telecasts of all games from Homewood Field; and
  • The strength, stability and resources of the Big Ten, which bode well for the success of its venture into a new sport.

It also means a great deal that the Big Ten is so enthusiastic about welcoming Johns Hopkins into its ranks. Commissioner Jim Delany and other Big Ten officials and coaches have made it clear that they consider Johns Hopkins central to the league’s strategic decision to expand into lacrosse competition.

We will begin league play with the rest of the conference in the 2015 season. We have agreed to an initial membership term of five years and to re-examining the relationship after three years to determine if it should be extended. Our NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse program will continue play as part of the American Lacrosse Conference next year before moving to independent status in 2015. And, as always, we remain proudly and deeply committed to NCAA Division III status in all other varsity intercollegiate athletics.

I want to thank the Big Ten presidents and chancellors and Commissioner Delany for inviting us to join them. We are excited about our future with Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers, and about our association with the conference and all its members.

Go, Blue Jays!


Ronald J. Daniels

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