In light of Johns Hopkins president Ronald J. Daniels’ decision to form a committee to explore the potential of joining a conference for the men’s lacrosse program, there’s a school of thought that the panel is merely a precursor to the university abandoning its 130 years of independence.
The committee is expected to produce a report for Daniels by May 15 and then he will make a decision shortly afterward. While multiple reports have suggested that the Big Ten, the Big East and the Eastern College Athletic Conference are interested in Johns Hopkins, coach Dave Pietramala emphasized that the panel is researching the benefits and disadvantages of conference affiliation, but not determining which conference is best for the university.
“We are not exploring what conference to go into,” he said Wednesday morning. “… Their charge is to put forth a recommendation on whether it is in the best interest of Johns Hopkins to go into a conference or stay independent. That is the charge of this committee, not to decide are we going into the Big East or the ACC or the Big Ten or whatever is out there. Their charge is to gather information. They’re going to work closely with myself and our athletic director and they are going to do a bunch of research and put together a recommendation to the president.”
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Pietramala said he’s not surprised that the university is undertaking the process of gathering information related to that proposal. In the current age of college athletics where certain sports generate millions of dollars in revenue for schools and their conferences, the notion of staying independent is slowly going the way of dinosaurs and dodo birds.
Pietramala said finding out whether avoiding conference affiliation is economically and socially feasible is the school’s priority.
“I think that’s what we’re trying to decide,” he said Wednesday morning. “I think we’ll be able to tell you in a couple months if it’s difficult. I think there are certain challenges that are presented now because of all this conference alignment. It’s happening so fast. I don’t know that it makes it harder. I just think – and I’m certain that our administration feels this way – when you have these kinds of changes taking place and you have something like Hopkins lacrosse which is an important part of the fabric of our community, it’s important to evaluate, how do these changes impact us? OK, here’s how they impact us. Then what do we have to do? Do we need to make a change here to deal with these conferences? Or are we OK to stay right where we are? Bu the question isn’t, are we OK now? The question is, are we going to be OK three years, five years, eight years, 10 years down the road? This whole thing is prompted by all the changes and Hopkins feeling like we have to be responsible here and at least look at the lay of the land and evaluate how it’s changed and how that change is affecting us now and down the road. And then we have to make a decision as to what direction we would move in to best serve Johns Hopkins University and the program.”