- Chris Jastrzembski
REPORT: Monmouth joining Hampton to the CAA; Stony Brook potentially following
After Jon Rothstein reported Friday that Hampton was going from the Big South to the CAA next season with Monmouth and Stony Brook potentially following, we can add Monmouth to the "reportedly definitely going" list.
Per Adam Zagoria of NJ Advanced Media and The Asbury Park Press, Monmouth will be leaving the MAAC for the CAA next season. He also cites an anonymous CAA basketball coach who told him that Stony Brook would also be headed to the conference from the America East. Stony Brook has been a member of CAA Football.
A lot of the ramifications were laid out in Friday's post when the Hampton news first came to light. The MAAC and America East would not be affected in terms of their automatic qualifier in men's and women's lacrosse. For the SoCon, losing Hampton who joined as an associate member this year in men's lacrosse would result in five teams in the conference, one short of the minimum for an AQ. They would have a two-year grace period to get back to the six-team minimum.
This would mark the most impactful realignment news to affect college lacrosse since 2014 and 2015, when the ACC added Notre Dame and Syracuse and the Big Ten started sponsoring lacrosse and added Johns Hopkins and Maryland.
Here's how the new-look CAA, America East, MAAC, and SoCon would look like for the 2023 lacrosse season.
CAA (9 men's, 8 women's)
Delaware Blue Hens
Elon Phoenix (Women's only)
Fairfield Stags (Men's only)
Hampton Pirates (Men's only)
Stony Brook Seawolves
UMass Minutemen (Men's only)
William & Mary Tribe (Women's only)
America East (6 men's, 6 women's)
New Hampshire Wildcats (Women's only)
NJIT Highlanders (Men's only)
UAlbany Great Danes
UMass Lowell River Hawks
MAAC (6 men's, 8 women's)
Canisius Golden Griffins
Fairfield Stags (Women's only)
Iona Gaels (Women's only)
Marist Red Foxes
Niagara Purple Eagles (Women's only)
St. Bonaventure Bonnies (Men's only)
SoCon (5 men's)
High Point Panthers
Some overall thoughts, excluding the SoCon which I laid out on Friday:
The biggest beneficiary is the Stony Brook women. The Seawolves have been one of the best teams in the nation for the past few years and churn out talent such has Kylie Ohlmiller, Ally Kennedy, and Rayna Sabella. Stony Brook has won 54 straight America East contests dating back to 2014, so this will be a step up in conference competition which will help their RPI and SOS metrics. Their toughest foe should be Drexel, who made the NCAA Tournament last year and is in USA Lacrosse Magazine's Preseason Top 20.
Does this make the CAA a multi-bid conference? In women's lacrosse, Stony Brook should replace James Madison as the top dog. The CAA has had multiple teams make the tournament in recent years, including four in 2021.
On the men's side, it might not be as easy. The last time two teams made the NCAA Tournament was in 2013 (Penn State and Towson). The CAA does gain better quality teams and should make them more on par with the Ivy League, Patriot League, and Big East in that second tier of men's lacrosse conferences. I'd love to see the CAA Tournament expand to six teams and just watch the parity in the Thunderdome.
With Stony Brook leaving and Hartford more than likely on their way to Division III, the America East now has six teams and loses some significant depth. It's still a one-bid league in men's and women's lacrosse, but it should open up competition for the AQ on the women's side. The men's side does have UAlbany, UMBC, and Vermont who've been good for the past few years and won conference titles. It will also give a chance for Binghamton and perhaps NJIT and UMass Lowell to take the next step and make the America East Tournament.
I'd be curious if Fairfield is asked to return to the MAAC, which is their home conference. Fairfield landed in the CAA in 2015 when the ECAC Lacrosse League folded and the Stags looking to stay in "the upper tier of Division I lacrosse." A move to the MAAC would result in the opposite of that, but Fairfield would have a much better chance of making the NCAA Tournament with an AQ.