June 3, 2013

Big Ten release

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Big Ten Conference will sponsor men’s and women’s lacrosse as the conference’s 27th and 28th official sports and Johns Hopkins University has been accepted as a sport affiliate member for men’s lacrosse beginning with the 2014-15 academic year, the league announced Monday.

“The growth of the sport of lacrosse has allowed for the addition of new teams and then expansion of our conference has allowed for a new brand of lacrosse to develop,” Heather Lyke, senior associate athletics director for sport administration at Ohio State who oversees men’s and women’s lacrosse, said. “We are thrilled to become a part of the creation of Big Ten lacrosse for both our men’s and women’s programs. We have been fortunate to play in the ECAC and ALC and have great relationships with those teams but look forward to the future of Big Ten lacrosse.”

Big Ten competition in both sports will feature Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers, with Johns Hopkins participating in men’s lacrosse and Northwestern competing in women’s lacrosse. Big Ten rules allow for a conference championship when six institutions sponsor a program in any given sport.

“I have been fortunate enough to be a part of 10 of the last 12 seasons at Ohio State and witness firsthand the incredible growth of both the college game and lacrosse as a whole across the Midwest,” Nick Myers, who recently finished his fifth year at the helm of the Buckeyes, said. “It has always been a goal to one day see the addition of lacrosse to the Big Ten Conference. When you are a Buckeye it is humbling to see teams compete and win Big Ten championships all around you at Ohio State. The tradition and competitiveness of the Big Ten Conference is like no other. The opportunity our men will have moving forward to play Big Ten lacrosse and compete for championships is very special.”

The six programs that will comprise Big Ten men’s lacrosse boast 56 national championships, with schools that have competed for more than a century. Johns Hopkins has been an independent since 1883 and leads all schools with 44 national championships. Maryland has claimed 11 national titles, while Rutgers has also won a national championship. The Scarlet Knights launched men’s lacrosse in 1887, followed by programs starting in 1913 for Penn State, 1924 for Maryland and 1953 for Ohio State. Michigan instituted a men’s lacrosse program in 2012. Maryland, Ohio State and Penn State each qualified for the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championship this season, with the Buckeyes advancing to the quarterfinals.

“We are grateful to the American Lacrosse Conference and have valued our 12 seasons as a charter member of what has become one of the strongest leagues in women’s lacrosse,” Alexis Venechanos, the Ohio State women’s lacrosse head coach who completed her third season in 2013, said. “We are excited, however, to move forward with the Big Ten Conference and establish the same kind of excellence starting in 2014-15. This move will give our program and our sport more exposure, while also allowing the student-athletes to build the same traditional rivalries as many of the other teams at Ohio State enjoy.”

Big Ten women’s lacrosse will feature teams that have won 23 national championships and 19 of the 32 NCAA championships, including eight of the last nine. Maryland has won 11 national championships, with 10 NCAA crowns, including seven straight from 1995 to 2001 and most recently in 2010. Northwestern has claimed seven NCAA titles, highlighted by five-consecutive from 2005 to 2009 and most recently in 2012. Penn State has earned five national championships, including NCAA titles in 1987 and 1989. The Terrapins, Wildcats and Nittany Lions earned berths in the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship this season. Penn State advanced to the quarterfinals, Northwestern reached the national semifinals and Maryland was edged in triple overtime in the national championship game.

With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers in 2014, the broad-based athletic programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will sponsor nearly 350 teams in 42 different sports with almost 9,500 student-athletes, more than any other conference. The Big Ten currently features 25 official conference sports, 12 for men and 13 for women, but is set to add men’s ice hockey as the 26th conference sport in the fall. The last official women’s conference sport established by the Big Ten was rowing in the 1999-2000 academic year.