Hobart and William Smith Colleges are pleased to announce that the Hobart College lacrosse team will accept an invitation to compete in the Northeast Conference as an associate member beginning in the 2014 season. The Statesmen will join NEC members Bryant, Mount St. Mary’s, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart and Wagner.
“After careful consideration of the generous offers available to the program, the Northeast Conference is the best fit for our student-athletes,” says Hobart and William Smith Colleges Vice President for Student Affairs Robert Flowers. “We have been impressed with the league’s commitment to academic and athletic excellence as well as its principles of sportsmanship and student-athlete community involvement. These priorities mirror the mission of Hobart and William Smith Colleges.”
“The opportunity to join the Northeast Conference is exciting for Hobart lacrosse,” says Director of Athletics Mike Hanna ’68. “From New England to the Mid-Atlantic, the NEC schedule will take us to areas in which the Colleges recruit heavily and where large numbers of our graduates and fans are located. A new chapter is about to open for this storied program and the NEC’s invitation is a big part of the excitement around Hobart lacrosse.”
“We are thrilled that Hobart lacrosse is joining the NEC family; not only do they bring a long history of success on the lacrosse field, but they have consistently demonstrated a strong commitment to the core values of educating and developing student-athletes,” says NEC Commissioner Noreen Morris. “The NEC coaches and administrators are dedicated to building a premier men’s lacrosse league, and we are taking another big step in the right direction with the addition of the Statesmen.”
Hobart has played two of the five NEC teams, sporting a 3-3 record. The Statesmen are 2-2 against Robert Morris and 1-1 against Bryant. The Bulldogs are the league’s defending champion. Of note, Mount St. Mary’s is led by Hobart Hall of Famer Tom Gravante ’88.
In addition to five regular season NEC games, Hobart will also maintain its long-standing rivalries with non-conference foes Colgate, Cornell, and Syracuse.
“The NEC is a fantastic fit for Hobart lacrosse and presents a wonderful opportunity for the members of the Statesmen lacrosse team,” says Head Coach T.W. Johnson. “With some of the top coaches in Division I lacrosse and strong leadership from the NEC office, I believe this is a league on the rise.”
Johnson departs the Statesmen next month after nine seasons serving the Hobart lacrosse program, including the past five as head coach. He returns to his alma mater, Nansemond-Suffolk Academy in Suffolk, Va., to serve as athletic administrator and lacrosse coach. A search for Johnson’s replacement has already started with the intention of hiring a new coach this summer.
Hobart is one of the most storied lacrosse team’s in the nation. The program won its first national championship in 1972, capturing the USILA College Division crown. The Statesmen have competed in all three NCAA divisions, winning Division II national championships in 1976 and 1977 as well as the first 12 Division III national championships (1980-91), adding 13th title in 1993. Since 1995, Hobart has competed in Division I, earning NCAA tournament bids in 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004.
An independent from the program’s inception in 1898 through the 1999 season, the Statesmen first joined a conference in 2000 as an associate member of the Patriot League, winning the league’s championship in 2000 and 2002. Hobart owns a 732-464-20 all-time record.
Hobart is leaving the Eastern College Athletic Conference, which it joined prior to the 2005 season. In nine seasons, Statesmen have earned four first team all-conference awards, 16 second team awards, placed two on the all-rookie team, garnered one Rookie of the Year award and one Coach of the Year award.
Hobart played a highly competitive schedule in 2013, facing three of the NCAA tournament’s final four teams as well as the 2012 national champion. The Statesmen finished the year with a 6-8 record, a two-win improvement over 2012. Hobart scored impressive upsets of then No. 15 Colgate, then No. 20 Bellarmine and then No. 3 Syracuse. On March 5, the Statesmen trailed the Raiders 8-7 in the fourth quarter, but scored late to force overtime and won in extra time for the first time since 2004. In Louisville, Ky., a month later, Hobart weathered a late Bellarmine rally that tied the game and necessitated OT. A goal with 49 seconds left marked the Statesmen’s first ever double overtime win. Just three days later, Hobart scored late to top the Orange 13-12 in the Carrier Dome.