Is Stevenson Really Leaving The CAC For The MAC?

Stevenson - Tufts Lacrosse at Towson
Ford. Baller.

Stevenson University, formerly known as Villa Julie College, is located down in Maryland and they have a great lacrosse team that has really grown into a national championship contender over the past 5 years or so.  Right now, they play in the Capital Athletic Conference with teams like Salisbury, St. Mary’s, York, Hood, and a host of other schools.  But starting in July of 2012, all Stevenson sports teams will begin competition in the MAC.

This is a huge move for DIII Lacrosse and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.  Here’s why:

Right now, Stevenson and Salisbury are, by far and away, the best two teams in both the CAC and the entire South Region.  They are often the only two teams out of the CAC that are up for consideration for the NCAAs as well.  Before Stevenson came up, Salisbury was THE top dog, and Stevenson’s arrival as a powerhouse certainly elevated the stature of the CAC.  They now had 2 teams that could beat anyone, and were almost a lock to take a Pool C bid every year, along with the Pool A AQ bid the conference winner would get.

The MAC, which is not regarded as a particularly strong conference for men’s lacrosse, also got a Pool A bid for their conference champion.  But now that Stevenson will be joining the MAC, those teams will not have the same opportunity to make the NCAAs.  FDU-Florham, Lycoming and Widener all have, or have had, decent lacrosse teams recently, but none of them are on the same level as Stevenson.

Salisbury - Stevenson Lacrosse CAC Final Tony Mendes
I’ll miss the CAC Finals. They just won’t be the same!

So this means that another Pool C slot will open back up starting in 2013, and the loser of the CAC Finals probably won’t be getting a bid to the dance.  For Salisbury, things will go back to the way they were, where the Gulls were the undisputed Kings of the Capital.  Stevenson will continue to win the MAC for what I would envision is years, and neither conference will produce a consistent Pool C contender.

So who will benefit the most from Stevenson moving to the MAC?  Not Stevenson.  They made the NCAAs no matter what.  Not Salisbury.  They’ll still win their conference or get a bid, with out without the Mustangs.  Not the other CAC teams either.  They can make the tourney is they improve, but that has little to do with Stevenson being in their conference… they just have to get better.  And DEFINITELY not the teams in the MAC.  Their NCAA hopes just went right out the window.

No, the teams that will benefit from this move are up North, in the NESCAC and Empire 8.

Stevens Lacrosse lax Springfield Lacrosse 2011
Stevens (NJ) could see a benefit from Stevenson leaving the CAC for the MAC.

Weird, right?  But it makes sense.

Stevenson and Salisbury used to fight over one AQ, and then the loser usually got a Pool C bid.  Well now, they will BOTH be fighting for separate AQs, and against weaker teams.  And this will open up another Pool C bid, and it will likely go to Norther teams that don’t win their conferences like Amherst, Nazareth, Trinity, Stevens and even a school like Geneseo, where true parity exists.

Stevenson has to be happy.  They’re moving to a conference that they can absolutely dominate for years to come.  Salisbury has to be happy because they are back on top of the CAC with no questions asked.  The teams in the MAC must love better competition, but must also realize that they need to make improvements rapidly if they want to compete in the future.  The teams that are happiest though are hundreds of miles away up North… licking their chops at the prospect of another Pool C bid.


  1. A couple thoughts
    First off, this move has almost nothing to do with lacrosse. The reason Stevenson is moving is because they have added football and the CAC does not have a current football league. They moved to the MAC (which is a strange conference but I’ll address that later) so they can be in a Football conference with an AQ to the NCAA tournament for football. I think right now Stevenson’s big money maker is lacrosse, but I find it hard to believe that football won’t overtake that pretty soon.
    Now to the MAC, what many people don’t realize is that the MAC is actually two different conferences (The freedom and commonwealth conference). In probably all but 3 sports those two conferences have 8 teams and they are completely separate. The reason lacrosse is not split up like that, is because of AQ’s, I believe there are currently 12 teams in the MAC and they are split evenly between Freedom and Commonwealth. This move helps the MAC in lacrosse because now they can split into the two conferences and both will get an AQ because the Commonwealth will have 8 (Widener, Lycoming, Elizabethtown, Messiah, Lebanon Valley, Alvernia, HOOD, STEVENSON) and the other side will have 7 (Eastern, FDU, Manhattanville, Desales, Misericordia, King’s, Arcadia (associate member for the Freedom to retain an AQ)). So to say all MAC teams lose out is misleading, now the Freedom conference, who has 1 team that has made the NCAA tournament in recent memory, actually benefit because the conference splits and they won’t have to deal with 4 of the 6 playoff teams in this year’s MAC tournament nor will they have to deal with Stevenson.
    I fell like the big losers in all of this is Stevenson’s lacrosse team. This is a pretty clear statement that they are more worried about their football team than the lacrosse team. They have lost a great in conference rivalry in Salisbury and now move to their biggest conference opponent being Widener (who they beat 15-3 last year).
    This may seem like a ridiculous move, but it is just us lacrosse fans having a reality check to see that football takes priority over lacrosse.

    • I didn’t think the move had much to do with lax… but I posted on it because it will have an effect on men’s lax. Agreed it was done for other reasons.

      The MAC may be two different conferences in other sports, but for now it is only one conference for lacrosse, right?
      So are they going to split it into two conferences officially and the MAC will die? If not, I think they’d still only get one bid to the dance.
      It would be interesting, and totally different if the plan were to create TWO conferences… but I didn’t see that in the link above from Stevenson. Is that the plan?

      Stevenson always plays a solid OOC schedule, but with 14 league games, that could get very hard. The split would be a good idea.

      Now would there an additional bid assigned to Pool A? Or would a Pool C slot become a Pool A slot? I guess that’s the next big question if the split does happen.

      • I can only think of one sport that is going to combine this conference still after the move and that is going to be football.

        PS…I loved the article and liked your observations, my post was mainly to inform people about how this changes the landscape of a conference they probably didn’t know anything about.

  2.  not everything is about lacrosse at stevenson. true lacrosse is the only powerhouse the school has ever had but the other athletic programs are trying to and are growing! this is to better ALL sports at stevenson. womens lacrosse has been nationally ranked for the past 2 years. womens soccer won the CAC conference and made it to the NCAA tournament. mens soccer and mens volleyball both won ecac tournaments. softball made it to their first ever postseason tournament. womens volleyball went over 20 wins for the season. so it is not just lacrosse at stevenson anymore. surely the football team will need years to grow, but come back to stevenson in 10 years and i beat they are a powerhouse athletic program in division III.