My Conference Realignment Proposal: SoCon and MAAC Get Shaken up

Photo Credit: Nelson Cheeseman

As lacrosse adds new teams there is going to be conference realignment or new conferences adding lacrosse. Over the past few years there has been much discussion about what conference certain teams should move to and conference's that should add men's lacrosse. I'm looking at you Pac-12. 

In all honesty there aren't that many schools that people would say need to change conferences one hundred percent. Now teams like Hampton, Cleveland St, NJIT, and Utah pretty much need to join a conference in order to garner some more recruits and thus become more competitive. Hampton and NJIT are the two from this group that I would say need to the most.

The first conference that we will start with is the SoCon. The SoCon is comprised of Air Force, Bellarmine, Furman, High Point, Jacksonville, Mercer, Richmond, and VMI. The SoCon is the conference that could just use some minor adjustments in terms of alignment. The one school that I would add to the SoCon would be Hampton. The Pirates have just made the move from the MEAC to the Big South in all other sports. That was a pretty big move among the HBCU world when they announced that last year. 

The Big South is in the same region as many of the SoCon schools, plus High Point is also a member of the Big South and a SoCon lacrosse member. VMI used to be a Big South member until they fulled moved the the SoCon in 2014. 

Hampton moving to the SoCon just makes so much sense on many different level. As started previously they could easily follow the trail of High Point and become another Big South member to be an affiliate for lacrosse in the SoCon. Joining the SoCon would also really help the Pirates develop and grow as a program. Hampton has seen growth in their program, but it has been slow at best. Joining the SoCon puts them up against better competition immediately and that will help the program and the players grow and develop. Also, joining a conference would help with recruiting tremendously. There is just so much upside for Hampton to join the SoCon.

Moving onto the MAAC it is good to note that St. Bonaventure has joined the MAAC as they kickoff their inaugural season in 2019. This could be done with Cleveland State as well. Cleveland State is a full member of the Horizon League and so is Detroit Mercy who is a MAAC school in lacrosse. That just makes perfect sense for Cleveland State to join the MAAC as well. Many of the schools in the MAAC are very similar to Cleveland State which just creates a stronger argument for this move. There is also the competition aspect as well as recruiting aspect as well. 

I also know that Vikings head coach Dylan Sheridan has stated multiple times that they would like to join a conference. In my opinion the MAAC would be the best spot for them and I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen in the next two to three years. 

This next scenario has been talked about by many but it doesn't look like it will happen any time soon. The A-10 conference doesn't have men's lacrosse but they most certainly could. UMass, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, and St. Joseph's are all full members of the A-10 and all have men's lacrosse. While many would like to see this it probably won't happen anytime soon. First off if it did then the A-10 would have to find at least two affiliate teams so they could have an NCAA tournament AQ.

If the A-10 was to add men's lacrosse the two teams that they would most likely want to add as affiliates would be Cleveland State and Detroit Mercy as those two schools just make the most sense. Also, if the A-10 added men's lacrosse there would be other conference that would take some serious hits. The biggest would be the CAA who would drop to five teams if they lost UMass. The MAAC would lose St. Bonaventure and Detroit Mercy if the A-10 added them as an affiliate. The SoCon would also lose a team in Richmond. While the A-10 adding men's lacrosse is cool to talk about it will most likely not happen anytime soon.

Utah is it's own monster as they are a full member of the Pac-12, which only has women's lacrosse. Utah is actually the only school in the Pac-12 that has men's lacrosse, but I feel they are just the first domino to fall. There have been rumors of Utah being added as an affiliate to the ACC but that doesn't make any sense in terms geography. Yes, Utah is most like the ACC and Big Ten schools but they are the furthest west team. 

I know Coach Holman want's to find a conference but if I was Utah I would just stay independent. They have regional rivalries that should form with Denver and Air Force already and I figure that they will schedule more of the top schools instead of the lower schools. I have heard arguments for Utah in the MAAC but that doesn't make any sense for them. The one argument that makes a little sense, besides the ACC rumors, is Cleveland State and Detroit Mercy appealing to the Horizon league to add lacrosse and then bring in Utah, Air Force, and Bellarmine as affiliates. That really doesn't make sense either because again Utah is a power 5 school so they wouldn't want to be in a conference with non-power 5 schools. Hopefully we see Pac-12 men's lacrosse in the near future.

In terms of NJIT we know they want to join a conference and they could fit in many different conferences. People have argued the SoCon as well as the MAAC, and I have even heard people say that NJIT should join the ACC. Now SoCon and MAAC make sense but the ACC just doesn't. Personally, I think that the CAA or the MAAC would make the most sense for NJIT. The CAA adding NJIT would only really make sense if they the A-10 added lacrosse and the CAA dropped to five teams. So, in reality the MAAC or SoCon looks like the best landing spots for NJIT if they get into a conference in the next few years. 


  1. Don't count on the Pac-12 anytime soon. Title IX is the big hurdle for any new new male sports programs, and it's rare that any male team can be added without adding a female team to remain gender proportional. Utah has more men than women in the general student body so adding lax was easy for the Utes, but most other Pac-12 schools have more female enrollment than males enrollment. Remember too that any team added in the western has to fly to most away games due to geographic distance, and western schools often have to help fund other schools' travel to their location in order to get home games. Denver's lacrosse budget is north of $2 million yearly, for example, which is about double the budgets of most Eastern programs, who rarely need to fly.


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