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July 23, 2022 — A hidden sign of progress — or is it?

I didn’t want to go much further without circling back to some of the conference shifting happening in NCAA Division I.

One of the stories of the 2022 women’s lacrosse season was the fact that Stony Brook, a Top 10 program the last several years, did not have a chance to play for a conference championship because the school moved from the America East Conference to the Colonial Athletic Association. And the Seawolves still managed to get into the NCAA Tournament as an at-large selection.

SBU and Monmouth are two women’s lacrosse programs who are going to be part of the Colonial next year.

The other two universities joining the CAA, however, are two historically-black colleges: Hampton and North Carolina A&T. Hampton and North Carolina A&T are the second and third HBCUs to leave their all-Black conferences to join up with other universities; the first was Tennessee State University, which joined the Ohio Valley Conference in 1986.

Neither Hampton nor North Carolina A&T have a women’s lacrosse team, though Hampton did make headlines a few years ago by starting a men’s team.

We’ve noticed, over the last 25 years, a number of women’s athletics programs at HBCUs being added. But we’ve also noticed that a number of non-Black athletes have filled the scholarship slots in some of these sports, especially bowling and softball.

And then, there are HBCUs which have undergone nearly wholesale racial changes, such as Bluefield State, West Virginia State, and Kentucky State, all of which are 50-percent or more non-African American.

Can we see lacrosse teams; nay, even field hockey programs, coming from these two new entrants into the CAA?

It’s possible, though we’ve seen Tennessee State pretty much stand pat when it comes to the breadth of women’s programs. But let us see what is going to happen to the demographics of the schools in the long term. After all, one HBCU with a burgeoning non-African American population, the University of the District of Columbia, has both men’s and women’s lacrosse teams.

Let’s see.

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