The Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) has officially introduced St. Bonaventure as an associate member for men’s lacrosse effective for the 2018-19 season, officials announced Monday. The upcoming season will mark the Bonnies’ first official year in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse.
“St. Bonaventure is well recognized for its academic and athletic excellence, and as the institution launches its men’s lacrosse program the MAAC is excited to have them join the conference as an associate member,” noted MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor. “Coach Mearns is very familiar with the MAAC from his tenure at Canisius where he won two MAAC titles. I expect he will quickly have the Bonnies become a competitive program in the MAAC.”
The Bonnies were unanimously voted into associate membership by the MAAC Council of Presidents. St. Bonaventure will be a full league member in men’s lacrosse immediately, playing a conference schedule against MAAC opponents in its first season of play. The Bonnies will also be eligible to compete in the MAAC Championship in spring 2019.
“On behalf of St. Bonaventure University, we would like to thank Commissioner Ensor, the presidents and the athletic directors of the MAAC for seeing our vision and inviting us to join their league,” St. Bonaventure Director of Athletics Tim Kenney said. “This partnership makes a lot of sense for both parties. Geographically we are in the MAAC footprint and demographically the member schools are similar. The MAAC is a perfect home for us as we grow our program and we look forward to being a contributing member of the conference.
“Being able to compete for a league championship immediately is a great privilege and sets us up on a trajectory of where we envision our program being in the future as we build to a level of being able to compete for championships,” Kenney added.
St. Bonaventure becomes the eighth league member for men’s lacrosse in the MAAC, joining Canisius, Detroit Mercy, Manhattan, Marist, Monmouth, Quinnipiac and Siena. The league plays six conference games each season and possesses one of only eight automatic qualifiers to the 16-team NCAA Tournament for its champion. The Atlantic 10 Conference, which is home to the rest of St. Bonaventure’s Division I teams, does not sponsor men’s lacrosse.
Bonnies head coach Randy Mearns brings a unique knowledge of exactly what it takes to compete in the MAAC, having coached in the league throughout his run of 19 seasons at the helm of Canisius. Mearns guided his teams to MAAC championships in 2008 and 2012.
“Being involved in the conference previously for 19 years, I can attest to the phenomenal coaches and athletes that make up MAAC lacrosse,” Mearns emphasized. “The talent level is just incredible. Being officially a member now, we will have our work cut out for us. It’s an amazing opportunity and challenge, but we are grateful to have a home and a chance to evolve into an automatic qualifier conference that will give us an opportunity to compete for a spot in the NCAA Tournament.”
St. Bonaventure Athletics announced the addition of men’s lacrosse as the University’s 17th NCAA Division I sport last spring. Since then, Mearns and his staff have been hard at work creating a roster that will bring in approximately 35 new student-athletes to the University for the team’s first year of competition. The Bonnies will be one of two new NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse teams in the nation next year, joining Utah as the 71st and 72nd programs to join the D-I level.
“I know our incoming players will be super excited about the prospect of being in the MAAC,” Mearns said. “We know it will be a challenge and the competition will be tough, but we will hit the ground running as we begin our first season with the rebirth of our program.”
The Bonnies’ 2019 season schedule will be announced at a later date.
The men’s lacrosse team will play its home games at the Tom ’80 and Michelle Marra Athletics Complex, which was re-dedicated in September 2014 following a $1 million donation from its namesakes with a brand new artificial turf playing surface. The renovations also included Musco lights, allowing for night games and practices.