REPORT: Hampton to the CAA; Could Monmouth & Stony Brook follow?
Realignment at the FCS has made another move, and it's going to affect lacrosse.
According to CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein, Hampton is expected to join the CAA on July 1. As a university, Hampton's athletics department left the MEAC for the Big South in 2018.
Rothstein also reported that the CAA was also targeting Monmouth (currently in the MAAC) and Stony Brook (America East) as potential members. There's no timetable on any official announcements.
Back in October, I noted the latest rumors regarding the CAA thanks to John O'Connor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch. That included Hampton and Monmouth, as well as Fairfield, Howard, and UNC Greensboro. However, it did not mention Stony Brook.
In terms of lacrosse, Hampton only has a men's team and is currently in their first ever year in a conference as an affiliate member of the SoCon. Under first-year head coach Chazz Woodson, the Pirates will play a 10-game schedule in 2022 featuring only Division I opponents. Monmouth's men's team is coming off a MAAC championship in 2021, while Stony Brook's women's team is a powerhouse program nationally.
If Monmouth and Stony Brook leave for the CAA, the MAAC and America East would still be eligible for an automatic qualifier with the minimum six teams on the men's side.
So what happens to the SoCon? They would have five teams and would more than likely request for the two-year grace period to keep their AQ and look for a sixth team.
Before this year, they would have been in a good spot. However, the ASUN returned to the men's scene with former SoCon members Air Force and Bellarmine along with Cleveland State, Detroit Mercy, Robert Morris, and Utah. They have six members and have an automatic qualifier, leaving men's lacrosse with zero independents for the first time potentially ever. Furman's men's program dissolved after the 2020 season was canceled.
Mercer and VMI are full members of the conference, with High Point (Big South), Jacksonville (ASUN), and Richmond (Atlantic 10) as affiliate members.
Option one is the obvious option with adding new schools. The next question is who and from what primary conference? The safest option is finding someone inside the SoCon. Ruling out a Furman revival, Wofford and Samford are private schools and could be the best options. The Citadel could be a possibility and create a rivalry with fellow military school VMI.
The SoCon has schools from the Atlantic 10, Big South, Conference USA, and Sun Belt as affiliate members in other sports. There's a number of options in the Big South such as private schools Campbell and Gardner-Webb, along with public schools Longwood, Radford, and Winthrop. Incoming Conference USA member Liberty could also be an option, as well as Coastal Carolina in the Sun Belt and future members James Madison and Old Dominion. All of these programs listed currently sponsor women's lacrosse.
The A10 is also an option. But with four current members (UMass, Richmond, St. Bonaventure, Saint Joseph's) in separate conference for men's lacrosse, odds are they could sponsor the sport in the very near future. Overall, it comes down to Title IX, overall interest, facilities, and money, along with other issues.
Could to SoCon discontinue sponsor men's lacrosse? It could be a possibility, especially if Jacksonville leaves for the ASUN. But it's still very early on and nothing's even official yet. It would not be surprising to see more realignment moves within the next few months, especially with the NCAA constitution being completely revamped.