Inside Lacrosse reported per sources today that the University of Denver will join the Big East as a lacrosse only member.
The move comes days after the Pioneer’s 9-8 loss to Syracuse in the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse tournament semi-finals. This is Denver’s second consecutive appearance in the semi-finals and third straight year in the NCAA tournament.
It is still uncertain if they Denver will join the conference in 2014 alongside Marquette, who was independent in 2013, or alone in 2014. It is also uncertain if the women’s team will join at all.
Since the Big East departures of Syracuse and Notre Dame to the ACC and Rutgers to the BIG 10, it was apparent that only five teams would remain in the Big East for lacrosse. To have an automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament, a conference must have at least six members, so the Big East has been searching for members since. Though they would have two-years to find a team to fill the gap, it appears the search is over.
The Pioneers, currently a member of the ECAC, have been rumored to be looking for a new conference since Loyola (Md.) announced a move to the Patriot league. In addition, a rumor of a BIG 10 conference that has circled means Michigan and Ohio State would also depart the ECAC would leave only Air Force, Fairfield, Hobart, and Bellarmine with Denver, which would take away the automatic qualifier for the ECAC.
It is also possible that more teams join the Big East, but at the moment, the Big East will be able to retain its automatic qualifier.