BALTIMORE, MD – Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels announced today that the Blue Jay men’s lacrosse team has been accepted by the Big Ten Conference as a sport affiliate member. The announcement comes on the same day that the Big Ten announced the addition of men’s lacrosse as an official conference sport. Big Ten play is scheduled to begin during the 2015 season.
Johns Hopkins will join current Big Ten schools Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan as well as future members Maryland and Rutgers in competing for the Big Ten Championship in men’s lacrosse. Hopkins will officially become a Big Ten sport affiliate member on July 1, 2014.
“This decision may represent the single greatest change in Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse in more than a century,” Daniels said. “I am grateful for the thoughtful process that has led us to this historic place, and I am confident in the success of our shared endeavor in the years to come. ”
Johns Hopkins has competed as an independent in men’s lacrosse since the program began play in 1883. Since then, the program has produced 44 national championships, nine NCAA titles, 183 First Team All-Americans and 65 members of the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame. The Blue Jays rank first nationally in overall national titles, First Team All-Americans and Hall of Fame inductees, while JHU’s nine NCAA titles rank second all time. Johns Hopkins has also appeared in 41 of the 43 all-time NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championships since the NCAA began sponsoring the national tournament in 1971.
“We are pleased to announce that the Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse program will become the Big Ten’s first sport affiliate member,” said Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany. “Johns Hopkins University is one of the top academic institutions in the country and their men’s lacrosse program has been one of the nation’s best since it was first founded in 1883. Lacrosse is a unique part of the culture on the East Coast, and is an emerging sport both among our current schools and across the country. The addition of Johns Hopkins will give us the opportunity to launch Big Ten men’s lacrosse in 2015, and we look forward to working with their administrators, coaches, student-athletes and fans in preparation for their first conference season.”
The ever-changing landscape of college lacrosse led Johns Hopkins Director of Athletics Tom Calder and men’s lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala to begin discussing conference affiliation in the spring of 2012. While fully aware of the storied history of the Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse program as an independent, both realized that national conference realignment was making the challenges of scheduling even more difficult and the opportunity most other teams had to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship through a conference was something that needed to be explored.
With six men’s lacrosse teams, the Big Ten will receive one of the automatic bids to the NCAA Championship. Currently, 16 teams are selected to compete each year in the tournament. NCAA rules allow for up to 50-percent of the tournament field to be comprised of teams receiving an automatic bid.
“The goal each season for our men’s lacrosse team always has been and always will be to compete for the national championship,” Calder noted. “Our administration is fully committed to providing Dave Pietramala and our men’s lacrosse program the resources and opportunities necessary for us to compete at that level. We are proud of the history and accomplishments we enjoyed while competing as an independent, but we feel the opportunity to align with members of the Big Ten as the conference adds men’s lacrosse best positions the Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse program to maintain the standards that have been established here.”
Johns Hopkins and Maryland have competed in men’s lacrosse since 1895 and the Blue Jays also added Michigan to the schedule during the 2013 season. In addition, Ohio State and Penn State are currently slotted as the team’s two preseason opponents, while Johns Hopkins and Rutgers have met 34 times dating back to 1920. The familiarity with those programs was a key element in the decision-making process.
“This is a very exciting day for Johns Hopkins University as we combine two traditions of excellence – the Johns Hopkins men’s lacrosse program and the Big Ten, which are both committed to excellence in the classroom and on the field” Pietramala stated. “As the head coach and a former player here, one of the things that is truly exciting is the challenging schedule we have been able to maintain. This move allows us to maintain the greatest rivalry in college lacrosse with the University of Maryland, add several nationally-recognized programs to our schedule and maintain a number of national and local rivalries we have in place. All of those things were important considerations and I am thankful to our administration for the time and effort they have put into this process and the unwavering support we have received in making this decision.”