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BU’s New Lacrosse Team Faces Stiff Competition Next Fall

Top-ranked Loyola Maryland also joins Patriot League


BU’s new Division I lacrosse team will face a worthy adversary when the University joins the Patriot League next fall. Loyola University Maryland has announced it will bring its sports teams, including the National Collegiate Athletic Association championship men’s lacrosse team, as well.

The Jesuit-run school, located in Baltimore, will become a member of the Patriot League, competing in 17 sports, beginning with the 2013–2014 season. BU and Loyola will boost the league to 10 full members. It has three associate members (MIT, Georgetown, and Fordham) that participate in one sport each.

Both BU and Loyola cited their compatibility with Patriot schools—“a profound commitment to excellence both in the classroom and on the field,” says the Rev. Brian Linnane, Loyola University Maryland’s president—as the reason to join. BU, a founding member of the America East Conference in 1979, is playing its final season in the conference.

Men’s lacrosse currently is a club sport at BU, playing in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association’s Pioneer Collegiate Lacrosse League. The team compiled a 2-10 record last year. The University recently recruited Yale assistant lacrosse coach Ryan Polley to lead its new varsity men’s lacrosse team. The new team was made possible by the construction of the New Balance Field, which opens in fall 2013, doubling BU’s sports field real estate. Polley will spend this year recruiting players in advance of the varsity team’s debut in the Patriot League next fall.

In the Loyola Greyhounds, BU will have an opponent that captured the NCAA title in men’s lacrosse last season, while their women’s team made it to the NCAA quarterfinals. Loyola’s men’s basketball team earned an appearance in the NCAA tournament last season as well.

With both BU and Loyola joining, “we believe that the Patriot League has enriched its future both on the field of play and in the classroom,” says Carolyn Schlie Femovich, league executive director.

Because of BU’s departure, America East, invoking its bylaws, banned the University from competing in the conference’s championship tournaments for the 2012–2013 season. A student petition, signed by almost 3,500 athletes from BU and other schools, failed to secure reconsideration of the ban by the conference this summer.

The petition garnered support beyond BU “because fellow student-athletes know that this could be them, should their school choose to jump ship,” says swimming and diving team member Kristina Hoppe (SHA’13), president of the America East Conference Student Athlete Advisory Council, who drafted the petition. As for the ban, she says, “my thoughts and those of thousands of others are adequately expressed in the petition. I continue to be disappointed with the action of the other America East college presidents, into whose hands the discretion to impose the ban was entrusted.”

The petition was a long shot, as the league had already turned down a University appeal of the tourney ban. “This matter was settled in June, and the conference has moved on and shifted its focus toward the upcoming year and beyond,” America East spokesman Sean Tainsh says.

The Patriot League was unable to rearrange its 2012–2013 schedule to allow BU an early entry this season.

America East’s ban shuts one route for BU teams into the NCAA tournaments—AE champions automatically make it to the NCAAs—but University teams may still win an “at-large” berth if they compile sufficiently excellent records during the regular season.

The move to the Patriot League will not affect four BU teams that compete in sports the league does not offer: men’s and women’s ice hockey and men’s rowing and wrestling. The current Patriot League full members are American University, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Navy, and Army.

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Rich Barlow

Rich Barlow can be reached at barlowr@bu.edu.

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