The Big East is one of the most recognized conferences in collegiate sports, and it could soon be one of the power conferences in college lacrosse.

Several coaches have stated that conference officials will vote on the formation of the league in May, with league play expected to begin in 2010.

“I think it’s going to happen,” Notre Dame Head Coach Kevin Corrigan told the Baltimore Sun. “As a matter of fact, it’s not a matter of if it is going to happen, but when.”

The conference would consist of seven traditional Big East schools including Georgetown, St. John’s and Rutgers – currently members of the Eastern College Athletic Conference – Villanova (Colonial Conference), Providence (Metro-Atlantic), Notre Dame (Great Western Conference), and Syracuse (independent). The conference would feature two traditional lacrosse powers in Georgetown and Syracuse, along with several up and coming programs. Most importantly, with seven teams, the conference would be granted an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

The move would create another conference with name recognition for college lacrosse and would be a big step for a sport that is quickly becoming popular among fans across the country.

“I think for the sport of lacrosse, it is a good thing,” Georgetown Head Coach Dave Urick said. “A conference that has that kind of name recognition as a legitimate league is definitely good for lacrosse.”

For many years Syracuse has been hesitant to consent to joining such a league because its status as an independent gives it the opportunity to play one of the best schedules in the country. The Orange regularly play traditional powers like Johns Hopkins and Loyola.

“One of the major hurdles was to get Syracuse to agree to the concept,” Urick said. “For a long time they weren’t that excited about it, and I could understand based on the success they had as an independent. But I think they’ve realized that maybe a Big East men’s lacrosse conference is a good thing. It’s a way to guarantee your way into the tournament [by winning] the automatic bid.”

The formation of the Big East would mean that Georgetown would have to leave the ECAC, a conference which it has been a part of for eight years and in which it has had plenty of success. The loss of Georgetown, St. John’s and Rutgers will leave the ECAC with five teams, one shy of the six required for an automatic bid to NCAA tournament.

“I have kind of mixed feelings,” Urick said of potentially leaving the ECAC. “I don’t want to leave those guys hanging, but at the same time we have to take care of ourselves and go with the conference’s wishes.”

Urick is also concerned about the effect the move may have on his team’s strength of schedule. They lose games against Penn State, Loyola and Massachusetts in favor of games against weaker teams in Providence and Villanova.

“We could easily lose one or two of those schools from our schedule,” the 19th year head coach said. “It could have a negative effect on our RPI and strength of schedule, but we deal with that by playing teams like Maryland, Duke and Navy.”

If league administrators do decide in May to create the league, it will alter the landscape of lacrosse dramatically – something that Urick feels will improve the game as a whole.

“It’s something that a lot of people have talked about for a long time, and I think it’s good for the growth of the game,” Urick said.

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