Though the university’s move to the American Athletic Conference has left most of Temple’s sports teams scrambling to figure out as much as they can about schools like Houston and Southern Methodist University, the same cannot be said for the lacrosse and field hockey squads.
In the coming season, lacrosse and field hockey will compete in a reconfigured Big East Conference as affiliate members. Due to a combination of the depleted number of teams left in the Big East and the lack of lacrosse and field hockey programs in The American, both conferences have a verbal, yet unofficial, agreement to come together for at least one season.
Without a meshing of conferences, every team would be forced to enter next season as independent members.
“It’s been a really good partnership with the Big East group left, to help keep the lacrosse schools in a situation where we have a conference to play in with enough teams, and keep our automatic qualifying bid,” lacrosse coach Bonnie Rosen said.
“I hope the move actually forces a lot of those schools that are going to be in the conference to consider adding lacrosse,” Rosen added.
Temple and Marquette will be the new additions to Big East lacrosse that is already the home of Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Rutgers, Cincinnati and Villanova.
For field hockey, the new Big East will consist of eight teams as opposed to seven from last year. Old Dominion and Temple will join Rutgers, Louisville, Georgetown, Connecticut, Providence and Villanova.
“We can’t do the same thing because of the new schedule and conference,” field hockey coach Amanda Janney said. “But, we’re happy to be playing top teams such as Old Dominion and UConn. [It’ll take some time adjusting to], but we’re still going to be prepared a certain way regardless [of who we play].”
In both sports, the early indication is that becoming affiliate members of the Big East will greatly increase competition and national exposure.
In Atlantic 10 Conference lacrosse, No. 13 Massachusetts was the lone A-10 team ranked nationally this season. Once Temple becomes a Big East affiliate, the Owls will face the likes of currently ranked No. 8 Georgetown and No. 17 UConn.
“I think it’s the perfect timing for our program to get to see more nationally ranked teams,” Rosen said. “We welcome the opportunity to play against teams that have been nationally ranked. I think it allows our players to see themselves as they should, which is a top team in the country.”
In field hockey, the Owls competed in-conference with No. 19 Richmond and No. 16 UMass last fall. But Big East field hockey will provide a tougher challenge for the Owls, as they will face a number of Top 25 teams. Even with No. 5 Syracuse moving on, the new Big East will boast No. 25 Louisville, No. 8 Old Dominion and No. 4 UConn.
“We had strong competitors in the A-10 and we’re used to playing Top 20 teams in the A-10, so I think we’ll be fine transitioning,” Janney said. “We have some great returning players who are playing a great spring.”
With Big East men’s sports – particularly Big East lacrosse – already standing as one of the marquee athletic conferences in the nation, Rosen believes any association with the Big East will be beneficial for Temple’s female student-athletes in the field sports.
“I think the move has elevated the status of Temple as an athletic department,” Rosen said. “Men’s lacrosse seems to be getting a lot of national exposure these days, so it’s helpful to have a male counterpart in that respect. I think the national exposure comes not just from the teams we play, but there is the men’s game in the conference as well, which should give us some good exposure too.”
Brien Edwards and Hoon Jin can be reached at email@example.com.