Decision on host of 2016-17 final four coming Friday
JHU submitted bid after games moved out of N.C.
Johns Hopkins officials will find out Friday whether Homewood Field will host the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse championships on Memorial Day weekend.
Homewood Field is one of five venues being considered for the women’s final four after NCAA officials announced last month that they would move all their 2016-17 championships out of North Carolina because of the state’s controversial transgender law.
The women’s lacrosse championships were to be played in North Carolina for the first time, at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary from May 26 to 28. Six other championship events, including three in Division I, will also be relocated.
The new venues for all seven sports will be announced Friday, said Mary Berdo, NCAA Division I associate director of championships and alliances.
She said there were five bids for the women’s lacrosse championships but declined to name them all. However, Berdo said, one possibility is combining with the men’s final four at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The men’s championships in all three divisions are also scheduled for Memorial Day weekend.
Officials from Stony Brook, which will host the 2018 championships, announced that it had also bid. The university on Long Island hosted the final four in 2011 and 2012.
Johns Hopkins coach Janine Tucker said she’s excited for Friday’s announcement. The Blue Jays have hosted twice before, in 1999 and 2001, and have three bids in for future women’s championships.
“It would be magical to have the women’s lacrosse championship here at Hopkins,” Tucker said, “and for us to be able to help our sport out of a jam with respect to having the championship moved at such a late date. Hopkins is great at hosting events, and we have such a great, historic venue.”
Tucker said the thought of Hopkins hosting crossed her mind immediately upon hearing the championships would be relocated.
“When I approached my AD and my administrators, they were already talking about it,” Tucker said. “We’re all in if we’re able to have this opportunity, and we would do everything to make it just an incredible event for our sport and for the women’s teams.”
The NCAA announced Sept. 12 that it would move its 2016-17 championship events out of North Carolina because officials believed the state’s laws do not protect the LGBT community, including not allowing transgender individuals to use the gender restroom they identify with, creating a potentially unsafe situation.
“Fairness is about more than the opportunity to participate in college sports, or even compete for championships,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said when announcing the decision. “We believe in providing a safe and respectful environment at our events and are committed to providing the best experience possible for college athletes, fans and everyone taking part in our championships.”
When the NCAA reopened the bidding process for new venues, the deadline was Sept. 27.
The time frame from preparing a bid to host an NCAA championship is usually two to four years, Berdo said, but for women’s lacrosse, it’s now eight months.
She said the time squeeze has been a challenge but is certainly not insurmountable.
“You’re just sort of in a condensed timeline … but at the end of the day, I really don’t envision anything being shortened or slighted to any extent with women’s lacrosse,” Berdo said. “I think, too, if institutions did bid, they are interested and they know what they’re up against, so this is no surprise to anybody.”
The final decision on the venue lies with the Division I women’s lacrosse committee headed by Janna Blais, also deputy director of athletics and senior women’s administrator at Northwestern.
Although officials at some venues, such as Johns Hopkins, were eager to bid for the championships, Blais said her committee cast a wide net in suggesting additional locations to Berdo and the NCAA.
“I would say our lacrosse championship is in really good shape right now, because we do have seven or eight months to pull this together,” Blais said. “That’s a really short period of time but everyone is really dedicated to the same result. … Women’s soccer is also in this mix and when they name their site, they’ll have 90 days to get it done. It’s just a much more focused effort, and we’re very confident we’ll be able to deliver an outstanding championship even in this short time frame.”
If Johns Hopkins were to host the women’s championships, it would be the 14th time for a Maryland school. The final four has been played at every Division I program in the state except Mount St. Mary’s. Towson has hosted four times in the past nine years.
Boston University has hosted twice. Otherwise, the championships have only been held in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey or New York since the NCAA tournaments began in 1982.
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