When Virginia men’s lacrosse coach Dom Starsia first heard the rumblings that Maryland might be leaving the ACC for the Big Ten, he didn’t think there was any way they could be true.
“It just seemed so illogical on so many different levels,” Starsia said.
On Monday, when Maryland announced it was in fact departing, Starsia needed smelling salts.
His first reaction?
“Astonished, really,” he said. “I think we’ve all come to appreciate the concept that anything’s possible in this day and age, but I never would have guessed that Maryland would have been one of the schools to consider making a move like this.
“It took a little convincing before I actually believed it.”
The Virginia-Maryland rivalry is one of the most storied in college lacrosse. For years, the programs have competed for the same high school talent from many of the same hotbeds. In 2011, UVa defeated the Terrapins in the NCAA championship game in front of 35,000 fans at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
The move to the Big Ten, in theory, helps Maryland’s long-term financial outlook, but Starsia is of the mind that more factors should have been considered.
“Give me an example where an athletic team at Maryland benefits by this — any sport,” he said. “Give me one.”
When Maryland leaves after this season, ACC lacrosse will consist of five schools — Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse and Notre Dame. In essence, the league is losing Maryland and picking up Notre Dame.
“For us, that’s kind of a wash,” Starsia said, “so on a practical level it doesn’t really affect us a great deal.
“This has a much bigger athletic impact on Maryland than it does on the rest of us.”
To earn NCAA Tournament automatic qualifier status, a conference must have at least six schools. In that vein, Starsia is hopeful that a school like Boston College, Florida State or Virginia Tech adds lacrosse and comes aboard in the future.
Recruiting-wise, Virginia will likely benefit from Maryland’s departure. Starsia says he has already been contacted by a number of high school players who are no longer interested in playing for the Terps. Those players, according to Starsia, had their hearts set on playing in the ACC.
Starsia wasn’t sure if the recruits would be held to their letters of intent, though he feels they shouldn’t be after what has transpired.
“The whole school walked,” Starsia said. “Are you telling me the kid — he can’t go, but the whole school can go?”
Starsia hasn’t decided if Virginia will keep Maryland on its schedule as a non-conference opponent in 2014.
“I’d like to add Richmond in the future if I can,” he said. “I’ve already had conversations with their new coach [Dan Chemotti]. There’s so much happening in scheduling these days. I think we’ll probably get through 2013 where we are, but I don’t think anybody can predict what scheduling is going to be like in 2014 and going forward. There’s a lot of moving parts.”
Starsia added: “Some people are going to drop [Maryland]. Whether or not we drop them or not [depends]. There are a lot of longtime rivalries that are now disrupted. There’s no question about that. It’s a remarkable turn of events.”
And Starsia gets the sense that the drama is really just beginning.
“It will be interesting to see if there’s another shoe about to drop,” he said. “I think we’re all holding our breath a little bit to see what might come next.”