by Fitzgerald Cecilio
The Big Ten has confirmed that the men's lacrosse program of Johns Hopkins and Maryland will join the league for the 2015 season.
"This decision may represent the single greatest change in Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse in more than a century," Johns Hopkins president Ronald J. 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," he added.
The Big Ten unanimously approved Johns Hopkins' status as an affiliate member, which will become official July 1, 2014. The approval coincided with the formation of a Big Ten in men's and women's lacrosse.
"We're very excited to launch two new conference championship sports in men's and women's lacrosse," Big Ten commissioner James E. Delany said. "We have six existing members now with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland."
The men's conference will include the Blue Jays, Terrapins, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers.
The women's programs will include Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers. The Blue Jays women's team will remain an independent.
With enough number of teams in its fold, the Big Ten could now sponsor a championship and hopefully obtain an automatic bid from the NCAA.
The Blue Jays had spent the previous 130 years as an independent, capturing nine NCAA championships and qualifying for 41 consecutive NCAA tournaments before missing out on the postseason last month.
Joining the Big Ten gives Johns Hopkins another avenue to the NCAA tournament, which handed out eight automatic qualifiers this spring and expected to add two more automatic qualifiers when the ACC and the Atlantic Sun field six teams each next season.
"I really enjoy being able to have a second chance to get into the NCAAs, and this will be another way to do it," said Blue Jays athletic director Tom Calder.
Johns Hopkins' move is the latest in the changing landscape of men's lacrosse. Two years ago, Syracuse announced that it would leave the Big East for the ACC, and Notre Dame followed the Orange in September.