Monday marked the official inductions of Xavier, Butler, and Creighton into the Big East conference, but one other school is also joined Monday: the University of Denver. Denver will be a men’s lacrosse only member.
The Pioneers announced the move last month following the conclusion of the NCAA tournament and their semi-final loss to Syracuse. Denver finished No. 4 on the Nike Division I Top 20 Poll with a record of 14-5.
With all the conference realignments and the announcement of the BIG 10 lacrosse conference, the ECAC began to crumble, and Denver coach Bill Tierney said that was the main factor for their exit.
“With all the movement and the potential movement, it really came down to what was going to happen with the BIG 10 because we knew our league was going to lose Ohio State and Michigan,” Tierney said. “When we got the invitation from the Big East we had to look at what our future might have been and if we didn’t take the invitation then someone else would of and we could have gotten left with a four team conference.”
Coach Tierney has led his team to two semi-final appearances in the last three years as well as four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
Denver becomes the sixth member of the Big East conference alongside Marquette, Providence, Georgetown, St. John’s, and Villanova. The addition of a sixth member means the Big East retains it automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament.
Marquette, despite being a member of the Big East since 2005, was not a lacrosse member in their inaugural season last spring. The played as an independent finishing with a 5-8 record, but will join Denver in making their Big East debuts for men’s lacrosse in 2014.
The Golden Eagles coach Joe Amplo is excited to have the Pioneers join the Big East to increase the talent level and increase Marquette lacrosse’s reputation in the West.
“We couldn’t be happier from a competition standpoint first of all and then secondly for us, its helps us enhance our recruiting,” Amplo said. “I think it helps us get out west a little bit and become a little bit more recognized in Colorado, which is a pretty good hot bed for lacrosse.”
The Big East has been one of the foremost conferences in lacrosse and though losing members like Syracuse and Notre Dame, it will still be one of the most competitive conferences in the NCAA.
“It’s going to be on of the more competitive conferences,” Amplo said. “Anyone can beat anyone on any given day and I think that’s exciting from the fan’s perspective and from a player’s perspective.”