Jan. 15, 2009

Princeton, NJ -- The Ivy League bids to the NCAA men's and women's lacrosse tournament will no longer be an "automatic" for the regular-season champion beginning in 2010. The league has announced that an Ivy League tournament for men's and women's lacrosse will be held annually beginning with the 2010 season. The winners of the tournament will receive the league's automatic bids to the NCAA tournaments, rather than the regular-season champion, as has always been the case in the past.

"Having a tournament will help Ivy League teams with their strength of schedule and their RPI," said Princeton men's coach Bill Tierney. "Just as importantly, it will be a great showcase for Ivy League lacrosse, and I'm sure Ivy lacrosse players will look at it as a highlight of their careers."

The format will have the top four teams in the regular-season standings play at the site of the regular-season winner on a Friday. The winners of the games between No. 1 and No. 4 and No. 2 and No. 3 will play in the final on Sunday. The first women's tournament is set for April 30-May 2, 2010; the men's tournament will be one week later.

"I think it'll be really exciting to have a tournament at the end of the year," says Princeton women's coach Chris Sailer. "In our sport, the top Ivy teams are some of the top teams in the country, and this will be a great event prior to the NCAA tournament. It'll be good for the sport and good for the league. It'll enable us to publicize our sport more, and it should be an exciting atmosphere for student-athletes."

Had there been a tournament a year ago, then Cornell would have played Penn and Princeton would have played Brown on the men's side, with the tournament played in Ithaca. On the women's side, host Penn would have played Yale, while Princeton would have played Cornell. The men's tournament site would not have been determined until after the Princeton-Brown game that ended the regular season.

The Great Western Lacrosse League, which will no longer exist after this season due to conference realignments throughout Division I lacrosse, showed the value of a conference tournament a year ago by getting an automatic bid and two at-large bids after a rise in strength of schedule and RPI following the league playoffs. The Ivy League did not receive an at-large bid in men's lacrosse a year ago.

The formation of the conference tournament will force Ivy schools to change their schedules to free up the tournament weekends, which currently feature regular-season games.