Splitting the NEC Into Divisions

Photo Credit Kevin Colton/Inside Lacrosse

Note: Thank you to everyone who brought up this topic to me or asked if I would would write something on this topic. I have done just that, enjoy. 

Starting in the 2019-2020 school year the North Eastern Conference (NEC) will have ten teams making them the largest conference in DI men's lacrosse. The second largest conference, at this point in time, is the Patriot League who currently has nine teams. Then there is the SoCon and MAAC who each have eight a piece.

Lacrosse will be one of the largest sport in the NEC, in terms of numbers of teams, as men's and women's basketball currently have ten teams as well. This growth in men's lacrosse is due to NJIT getting accepted as an affiliate member for men's lacrosse, Merrimack joining as they come up from DII in all sports, and LIU Post and Brooklyn combing athletic departments and going DI in all sports.

With so many teams in a sport where every team only has 13-15 games per season that raises some questions for sure. The biggest question is how it will impact each teams non-conference schedule. The thought is that we will see the NEC end up like the Patriot League where they have to start conference play early in the season because those games have to be played. That leaves out the ability for teams to play a lot of non-conference games and that can hurt a team's reputation if the they are really good but the majority of their competition is average. This is one of the big contributors to why we saw the Navy-Hopkins game get nixed last year.

The main way to fix this problem would be for the NEC to replicate what we see in college football and have divisions within the conference. Each team would have to play every other team in that division plus a few cross division games. This would be monumental for the sport and I think the Patriot League would follow suit as well if the NEC did go to divisions. 

If the NEC were to go to divisions for men's lacrosse they could go to a North Division and a South Division. The same could be done in women's lacrosse as they will have nine teams starting in the 2020-19 school year. 

The North would be made up of Bryant, LIU, Merrimack, Sacred Heart, and Wagner. The South would be made up of Hobart, Mount St. Mary's, NJIT, Robert Morris, and Saint Joesph's. That would give a good north and south split with the line being between New York and New Jersey. 

Also, this would give the NEC an even five teams in each division. That would give each team five divisional games and maybe two ore three cross division games per year. If that were the case then each team could have five to seven non-conference games per year. 

Dividing the NEC into divisions like this or similar to this would really help out the conference and be a great thing for lacrosse overall. As previously stated the Patriot League might even follow suit if the NEC were to make a similar move. It would be a win win for lacrosse overall. 

Map of NEC lacrosse with divisions


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