September 6, 2013

CAA Bans Penn State from Postseason; Lions Ineligible for NCAA AQ

by Corey McLaughlin | | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

The CAA voted to ban Penn State from postseason play in 2014, meaning the Nittany Lions are ineligible for the league's NCAA tournament automatic qualifying berth.
© Kevin P. Tucker

updated 09.09.2013 at 4.16 p.m.

Penn State, if it is to make the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament this year, will have to do so as an at-large selection.

The Colonial Athletic Association school presidents, reacting to Penn State's move to the new Big Ten lacrosse conference in 2015, voted this summer to ban the Nittany Lions from CAA postseason play in 2014. Penn State is ineligible for the conference's NCAA tournament automatic qualifying berth that goes to the league champion.

Penn State was notified of the CAA's decision in early July.

"Our staff and team was very disappointed when we received the news from the CAA office that we would not be allowed to compete in our league playoff," Penn State coach Jeff Tambroni said. "We respect the league office of our conference and imagine that the rationale used to make this decision was well thought out and, in the end, unavoidable. I can't imagine a scenario where they could have come to this conclusion otherwise.

"It is an unfortunate outcome for our seniors who will not have the chance to compete for their own league championship but we remain honored to be a part of such a competitive and respected league," Tambroni said. "We look forward to competing against our league opponents this spring and realize that we must focus on only the things that we can control."

The decision by the CAA, reported by Inside Lacrosse on Thursday, was final and has no chance of appeal. It is consistent with others from the league regarding conference realignment. CAA bylaws permit the conference to render schools ineligible for the CAA postseason after they decide to make a conference move.

"Our understanding is that the CAA athletic directors went to their presidents, who ultimately have the final vote and say," Penn State assistant director of athletic communications Jeremy Fallis said.

Last year, after George Mason announced it was leaving the CAA for the Atlantic 10 in all sports, George Mason's women's lacrosse team was among those ruled ineligible for the 2013 CAA postseason, and the decision was handed down in late March, in the middle of the Patriots season.

The CAA also banned teams from Georgia State and Old Dominion from the postseason after they announced intentions to join the Sun Belt and Conference USA, respectively, during 2013-13.

In those cases, however, schools were full CAA members. Since joining the CAA in 2009 as an associate member, Penn State has received no payouts from the conference. CAA commissioner Tom Yeager said Monday he thought this was the first instance where the postseason ban will apply to an associate member leaving the conference.

"It's a fairly controversial provision," Yeager said. "I don't think anybody would back away from that, but at the same time it's something that our presidents have looked at very closely twice in last two years and believe it's a principle that works for us. Does it work for everybody? Everybody else has to answer that question, but it's something that we all support.

"The rule has been applied universally," he said. "It's unfortunate, but a couple conferences have a similar rule. Generally the people leaving have objections about it. Those that don't are fine. The point is it does not restrict the Penn State kids from going to the NCAA tournament. They made it last year as an at-large. It doesn't limit anybody's opportunity to be player or coach of the year or all-conference team. It's just a standard that our conference champion is going to be somebody that hasn't resigned, basically, from the conference."

The Big Ten, Penn State's destination next year, had no comment.

The Big Ten starts men's and women's lacrosse in the spring of 2015 with Johns Hopkins, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers on the men's side and Maryland, Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers in the women's conference.

Penn State, which last spring hosted the CAA men's lacrosse tournament, lost to Towson in the league title game, but made the NCAA tournament as an at-large team in Tambroni's third season as coach. They hosted a first-round game as a No. 8 seed and lost to Ivy League champion Yale.

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