Michigan joins Loyola, Denver in ECAC
Life in the Eastern College Athletic Conference appeared to get more difficult with the news last week that Michigan has joined the league.
To be fair, this is the first year of Division I lacrosse for the Wolverines, and they have to deal with the likes of two-time ECAC champion and 2011 national semifinalist Denver, 2008 league titlist Loyola, and 2011 ECAC tournament finalist Fairfield.
Then again, Michigan had captured three of the last four Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association national championships and gone 241-44 in the 14 years that coach John Paul has coached the team. And the school carries the kind of Division I punch to become a major player on the recruiting scene sooner rather than later.
The Wolverines will compete next year as an affiliate member and will be eligible for the conference tournament in 2013.
The league is now composed of eight teams: Loyola and Hobart (both joined in 2005), Fairfield (2006), Air Force, Bellarmine, Denver and Ohio State (2010) and Michigan.
Perhaps the most intriguing result of the addition is that it adds more fire to the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. Those contests should be backyard brawls for both sides.
Here are some quotes from the ECAC release on the addition of Michigan:
ECAC commissioner Rudy Keeling: “Michigan will be an exceptional addition to the ECAC lacrosse league. After having been one of the strongest club teams in the country, Michigan is now committed to making its varsity men’s lacrosse team one of the best in the nation. The ECAC is excited to welcome the institution as our newest member.”
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon: “The ECAC lacrosse conference is competitive and balanced and we are thrilled to be accepted for membership. We plan to schedule as many of the league schools as possible for the upcoming season while understanding the challenges of scheduling competitions this late in the cycle. We look forward to growing our program and earning the right to compete for championships.”
Paul: “We’re very excited about joining the ECAC. Of course, we wanted to find a way to incorporate the best rivalry in college sports into our conference schedule, so the ECAC was in our sights from Day One because Ohio State was already a member. Top to bottom, the ECAC provides an opportunity to play an outstanding conference schedule against great programs. We feel like it’s a perfect fit.”