WHAC Becomes First NAIA Conference To Sponsor Men's and Women's Lacrosse

The Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) is making history by adding bowling and lacrosse for both men and women as conference sports effective the fall of 2012.

The WHAC is the first conference in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to offer the sports as a conference championship sport. The conference, which expands to 12 schools in the fall, now offers 22 conference sports for its members in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Although the NAIA does not offer a national championship in either sport, the WHAC will benefit from the inclusion of the sports. "It's a great opportunity to provide athletic competition to a larger group of student-athletes," said WHAC commissioner Rob Miller. "Athletic competition provides a unique college experience from which student-athletes learn dedication and leadership."

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Youth Lacrosse Growing Across Southwest Florida

It is the first day of skill assessments leading into the latest season for the Southwest Florida Youth Lacrosse League, and league president Ted Cassidy is explaining the game to a curious visitor.

“The object is just what you think it is,” Cassidy said, pointing at the goal. “Get the ball in the hole.”

A few minutes later, a few of the league’s more experienced players stand off to the side while a large crowd of helmet-and-shoulder-pad-clad kids run back and forth behind them during drills.

“At school, they see my lacrosse shorts sometimes and they’ll ask why I’m wearing my bathing suit,” said Kyle Dos Santos, 12.

“Mine do too,” nodded Bryce Thirtyacre, 10.

Lacrosse has been on the rise for the last decade in Southwest Florida, even getting an audition last year to become a local varsity high school sport.

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Denver City Lax

City Lax from Justin Reed on Vimeo.

Sports' Role in Small-College Enrollment

In his first year as president of Alderson-Broaddus College, Rick Creehan is overseeing a transformation of the Philippi, W.Va., campus through the expansion of the school’s athletics program. Football, men’s and women’s lacrosse, women’s tennis and men’s volleyball will begin play in 2012, and the college intends to add a marching band, a color guard, and cheerleading and dance programs in 2013. Groundbreaking on a new outdoor multisport complex will take place in April, although Creehan says that, as of now, the college has only raised enough money to pay for the turf and lights.

It’s the same formula that Creehan followed at Adrian College as executive vice president, working under Jeffrey Docking, that school’s like-minded president. Adrian doubled its enrollment and operating budget in six years through the construction of sports and recreation facilities — the two men had similar successes earlier at Washington & Jefferson College — and now Docking is moving on to an expansion of the academic program at Adrian while his former colleague toils at the obscure and unheralded A-B.

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Robert Morris University (IL - NAIA) Adds Lacrosse, Hires Coach

Chicago, IL – Robert Morris University has announced the hiring of Drew Stevenson to coach the school’s first ever Men’s Lacrosse program. The program is scheduled to begin competition in the spring of 2013.

Drew Stevenson’s lacrosse coaching philosophy is summed up in just a few words – Family – Academics – Commitment – Discipline. Now he is embarking on a new challenge to instill this philosophy and develop the Men’s Lacrosse program at Robert Morris University in downtown Chicago.

BU, UNH, UConn and Northeastern Talk About Their Men's Lacrosse Futures

In this months issue of New England Lacrosse Journal Braden Campbell asks New England colleges without Men's Lacrosse if they can see the sport in their future and gets some interesting answers.

Boston University A.D. Mike Lynch

"I would say it's very serious, I would say that we're in the final stages of decision-making in terms of whether or not it's something that BU would add in the near term"

Northeastern A.D. Peter Roby

"We've had people that are involved in the program, especially on the men's side, who have come to us and inquired, (and) alumni who have indicated interest. I think just given the popularity of lacrosse as a sport, given where we're located, and coming off the heels of our decisions around football, I think it was natural for people to start speculating."

UConn Associate A.D. Mike Enright

"We realize it's an up-and-coming sport, but we have 24 sports, we have a large budget. We're not looking to add any sports right now."

New Hampshire A.D. Marty Scarano

"I think we all believe - and my president is particularly fond of lacrosse - that it would be a great fit for us. Unfortunately, we just can't afford it. We're holding on desperately to what we have right now. I'm optimistic that when women's lacrosse gets into the tournament and gets going, that it's going to inspire more of the male side to get on board with this. We have a number of alumns that had done very well, they're smart businessmen. If we can get a number of those people together, maybe we can start trying to figure this out."

Boston College and Stonehill College also were referenced in the article as stating they had no plans to elevate their teams to varsity status.

NAIA Getting Close to 'Magic Number'

Over the past three to four years one sport has begun to explode across the NAIA landscape. No its not bowling, which was recently approved as an emerging sport, nor is it wrestling which has seen its popularity in the NCAA dwindle, it is the dominately east coast sport of lacrosse.

The popularity of the sport has grown in the recent decade, according to Jim MacKenzie, the integrated marketing manager at New Balance Team Sports, lacrosse is “the growth sport for team sports in North America. The speed and strategies of the game and how th

e game is played matches up great with the other sports American kids are playing,” he said. “Lacrosse has elements of football and ice hockey as well as the constant movement of soccer. It’s natural in the spring for kids to move over to lacrosse.” See statistics on Lacrosse’s popularity growth in Sports Business Daily.

With the majority of NAIA members being enrollment driven institutions, lacrosse appears to be a perfect fit for many. It requires a large numbers of participants and low cost of start up. Even land strapped-campuses can add lacrosse with the availability of cheaper more advanced athletic turf, the soccer field can now do double or triple duty.

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Bryn Athyn College Adds Women's Lacrosse, University of Colorado Close

Bryn Athyn College President Kristin King and Director of Athletics Matthew Kennedy are pleased to announce the addition of five new sports to the college’s athletic offerings. Beginning in 2013–2014, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s lacrosse, and men’s and women’s cross country will be added as intercollegiate varsity sports at Bryn Athyn College.

By fostering commitment, sportsmanship, and charity, the athletic program at Bryn Athyn upholds the College’s mission to enhance students’ civil, moral, and spiritual lives. The Athletic Department is working to find student-athletes who support the mission and demonstrate academic integrity that serves as the foundation for Bryn Athyn College.

Director of Athletics Matthew Kennedy says, “Through these new athletic offerings and a number of new academic opportunities, Bryn Athyn College will continue to strengthen our students intellectually, athletically, and morally.”

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University of Colorado Considering Adding Women's Lacrosse

The University of Colorado may very well be the next school to join the pack. Colorado Athletic Director Mike Bohn has confirmed the school will be adding a women's sport. Likely, that sport will be lacrosse.

When the University of Southern California announced in late 2010 the addition women's lacrosse to its illustrious athletics program, the lacrosse world took notice. Another big-time athletic department taking on the sport also made a case for the rest of the Pac-12 schools to
consider lacrosse as well. With the Buffaloes' recent move to the Pac-12, women's lacrosse in Boulder became an even likelier proposition.

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NALL Craziness

NALL Season to be Postponed

(just kidding we are starting in Jan as planned)

(just kidding we are going to split into two leagues)

(just kidding we are going to sue the crap out of each other)


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Growing Pains

With the announcement that the University of Dubuque (Division III Iowa) will be adding Men's and Women's Lacrosse the sport hit another benchmark as it continues its westward march. Dubuque represents the first NCAA lacrosse program in the state of Iowa and the first committed to begin in the 2013-2014 academic year. However, Dubuque's announcement that the program's first head coach, Jake Olsen, has no lacrosse experience except for 'being around the sport' while working as a football coach at Southern Oregon University forces those of us that advocate for growth to look in the mirror.

While Coach Olsen is probably a very nice person, and may give his best effort in coaching this program, there is still no question that he is not qualified to coach lacrosse at the collegiate level. 'Being around' lacrosse at a school that you worked at does not qualify you to be a head coach, even if you worked at Johns Hopkins, but especially not if you worked at Southern Oregon, an NAIA school where the program is a club sport. By hiring a part time head coach with no previous experience it calls into question Dubuque's commitment to lacrosse at their university.

But lets not single out Dubuque, they are not the first school that has chosen this route when adding lacrosse. Granted, for some programs starting up in non-hotbed areas it can be difficult to find a qualified head coach in their own backyard. With a regional applicant pool that is likely lacking the alternative is to pay a salary that can lure a qualified coach from outside the region, however some schools are obviously unwilling to do this, and thus you have the end result of a coach that has 'been around' some lacrosse.

So this may lead some to ask of a school such as Dubuque, why even bother adding the sport? Will Dubuque or other similar new programs be able to attract quality recruits with coaches that have little or no experience? Why even have a team if the commitment from the university is so lacking that it can't hire a coach that has coached at any level? The answer is money. Let's not kid ourselves, even though every week it seems a new school is going varsity at the Division III level, it's not simply because the school recognizes a national trend or is conceding to demand among its student body. In many cases it is because a school badly needs more 'heads in beds', and especially male heads since male enrollment has been downward trending in recent years. The lacrosse student athlete is very appealing to these schools due to their strength in academics and the financially sound families they typically hail from. The typical Division III university revenue model is much different than their larger counter-parts, and especially at private universities. With smaller endowments and less revenue sources these schools rely heavily on tuition to fund day-to-day operations. So understandably an opportunity to add 35-70 academically strong, out-of-state tuition paying, east coast student athletes is very appealing.

Now certainly there is nothing wrong with a university wanting to increase enrollment, generate more revenue, recruit in new areas of the country, and add academically strong students through the addition of lacrosse. However, a school should at the least ensure that these students will compete on a program that is well supported and appropriately staffed. If the 'Dubuque model' is what it is going to take to get the sport at universities in the most lacrosse-barren areas than so be it, but hopefully these schools don't forget that the student athlete experience should be paramount above all other priorities.