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posted 06.29.2012 at 2.05 p.m. by Clare Lochary

JHU to Leave ALC, Compete as Independent

updated 07.06.2012 at 11.26 a.m.

Johns Hopkins, a charter member of the women's American Lacrosse Conference, will leave the league to compete as an independent institution, beginning in 2014. They will become the only independent Division I women's lacrosse program in the nation. Johns Hopkins will compete in the ALC next season, and will host the 2013 conference tournament on May 2-4.

The Johns Hopkins men's program has always competed as an independent. The Blue Jay men are currently one of two unaffiliated Division I men's programs, along with Mercer (Ga.). Aside from its lacrosse programs, Johns Hopkins is a Division III school.

“I have long admired the opportunity our men's program has to selectively schedule games against strong teams from outstanding institutions. We are very much looking forward to following that same model,” Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker said in a release.

The Blue Jay women have competed in the the ALC since 2002. The program has a 30-34 overall record in conference and went 3-4 against ALC opponents in 2012.

Johns Hopkins has sponsored women’s lacrosse since 1976, and elevated the program to Division I status in 1999. For three seasons, the Blue Jays competed as an independent before joining the ALC, which was created as a lacrosse-only league for institutions that did not sponsor women’s lacrosse at the conference level. The original ALC members were Johns Hopkins, Davidson, Northwestern, Ohio, Penn State, Ohio State and Vanderbilt.

Since its inception, the ALC has become one of the most powerful leagues in the country, thanks in large part to Northwestern’s seven NCAA championships and Florida’s meteoric rise to the 2012 NCAA semifinals in just its third year as a varsity program. During the 2011 season, all six member institutions were ranked in the top 20 of the IWLCA poll, a first for any conference.

"Personally, I am disappointed by JHU's decision to leave the ALC as they have provided the league tremendous credibility through their lacrosse tradition and academic reputation," American Lacrosse Conference commisioner Craig Barnett said in a statement. "However, I also understand that these decisions are not made lightly and with their student-athletes best interest in mind."

Davidson left the ALC in 2005 and now competes in the National Lacrosse Conference; Ohio discontinued its varsity women’s lacrosse program in 2007. The ALC added Florida in 2010 when the Gators began varsity competition, and accepted Michigan as a new member in June 2011. The addition of the Wolverines, who begin NCAA play in 2014, may prove a fortuitous one for the league. Without Johns Hopkins, the ALC would drop to five members, one less than the six required for an automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament.

"The ALC will remain a national power in women's lacrosse and we look forward to the University of Michigan beginning conference play in 2013, thus, maintaining our NCAA AQ bid,” Barnett said. “I feel the ALC provides our members the opportunity to compete against the best lacrosse schools throughout various regions of the country as evident by our large footprint and our members success in the NCAA tournament."