De­ci­sion on host of 2016-17 fi­nal four com­ing Fri­day

JHU sub­mit­ted bid af­ter games moved out of N.C.

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Kather­ine Dunn kather­ine.dunn@balt­ twit­ kdunnsun

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.

Alex Len (Mary­land) and the Suns will face the Jazz in pre­sea­son tonight

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