The Richmond Method: Cut and Add

As lacrosse fans we should be flattered. There are some colleges and universities that badly want access to what our sport has to offer. They want access to academically focused student athletes, they want access to a financially sound demographic that will likely pay dividends in the long term, in some cases they want to increase enrollment and tuition revenue, but most important of all they recognize that lacrosse growth is not slowing down, so better to get on the wagon now rather than be playing catchup ten years from now.

Most schools that find the sport appealing enough to add we can find at the Division III level, their operational model is more focused on 'heads in beds' and tuition revenue than their Division I brethren, many of whom feel that lacrosse is not yet worth the investment to add to their big time sport offerings.

Nevertheless, slowly but surely Division I growth has been on an uptick, with seven men's lacrosse programs announced in the last two years. When a D1 team is added it has typically been via one of two ways: school adds both Men's and Women's Lacrosse to stay Title IX compliant (see Michigan, Furman) or school adds just Men's Lacrosse and is still compliant (see B.U., whom already had W.Lax but more importantly does not sponsor football).

However, the University of Richmond just added a new chapter to 'How to Add Division 1 Lacrosse For Dummies'. A chapter that involves adding lacrosse at the expense of other sports. This is certainly new and uncharted territory for our sport, but is it just the beginning? Richmond wanted lacrosse, they wanted access to all the positives that come with adding lacrosse to their sport offerings, however they didn't want to increase their budget for that access. They didn't want to add another women's sport, and they likely couldn't add M. Lacrosse on top of their current offerings for Title IX reasons (Richmond = Football). So what did they do? They cut M. Soccer and M. Track and Field and put M. Lacrosse in their place. No net change in their operational budget, no need for new program support investments. M. Lacrosse gets M. Soccer lockerroom, athletic trainer, equipment manager, strength trainer, etc.

Chapter 3: The Richmond Method – Cut and Add.

So is the Richmond Method the new norm? Not likely, but they may be ahead of their time. Division I university male sports offerings are relatively stagnant, and if there is movement it's often negative not positive gains.  Overall there is very little change year to year, and the fact that lacrosse is getting added at the rate it is is amazing in its own right. This chart displays NCAA Male sports fluxuations over the last twenty years...lacrosse is one of only two men's sports that has positive growth at the D1 level.

If lacrosse growth has a tipping point, a time where many schools badly want to add the sport, where the pluses outway the minuses, that's when things will get interesting. Imagine if twenty years from now lacrosse is a revenue sport along with Football and Basketball. That will open the eyes of a lot of athletic directors, and they may be willing to fit the bill to add the sport, but will they be willing to fit the bill to add a women's sport as well? If not then you'll likely see more of the Richmond Method put to work. Addition by subtraction. 

University of the District of Columbia (DII) Adds Men's and Women's Lacrosse

WASHINGTON, DC – University of the District of Columbia President, Allen Sessoms, and Director of Athletics, Patricia Thomas, announce that the university will add men's and women's lacrosse to its current Division II sports offerings.

University President, Allen Sessoms had this to say about adding men's and women's lacrosse, "The University of the District of Columbia is elevating its profile nationally and locally, and athletics is a large part of the university's vision. After our first full year in the East Coast Conference, the addition of lacrosse exhibits our significant commitment to sports sponsorship criteria and to the conference. Adding men's and women's lacrosse will not only enable us to recruit quality student-athletes from the region and nationally, but it will also allow us to continue to build on the recent successes in athletics. It is an exciting time to be a Firebird!"

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St. Ambrose University Adds Lacrosse (NAIA IA)

St. Ambrose University Athletic Director Ray Shovlain announced today that the University will start varsity men's lacrosse next year. The team will begin play in the spring of 2014.

 Lacrosse is the first varsity sport St. Ambrose has added since starting men's and women's bowling in 2009-10.

 "We are very excited to add men's lacrosse," Shovlain said. "We believe lacrosse will be similar to other programs we have recently started, like dance, men's volleyball and bowling. It will give us the opportunity to attract additional, quality student-athletes to St. Ambrose from different recruiting areas."

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University of Richmond to Add Lacrosse

In order to achieve the objectives established in our April 2011 athletic strategic plan, the University of Richmond athletic department is adding men's lacrosse as an NCAA Division I intercollegiate sport. The addition of men's lacrosse is part of a reconfiguration of our athletic program that was approved by the University's Board of Trustees. This reconfiguration discontinues the University's sponsorship of men's soccer and men's indoor and outdoor track and field, effective at the conclusion of their 2012-13 seasons. The athletic department will continue to sponsor the men's cross country program. We are planning for the men's club lacrosse team to transition to a Division I team by the spring of 2014.

 A successful Division I athletic department, like any successful organization, cannot remain static. It must look to the future and identify a strategy to best serve the University and its student-athletes for the long term. It has been more than ten years since the University evaluated and made changes to the intercollegiate sports it sponsors. As a result, the University's athletic strategic plan recognized the need for a thoughtful and forward-looking assessment of the University's Division I sports to ensure that we meet the future needs of the University and the next generation of student-athletes.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Illinois Wesleyan University (DIII) Adds Lacrosse

BLOOMINGTON — Illinois Wesleyan announced Wednesday it will add a men’s lacrosse team in the spring of 2014 and women’s lacrosse the following spring.

“Lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport in the Midwest and is an emerging sport among College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin schools,” said IWU athletic director Dennie Bridges. “Offering lacrosse gives a significant number of high school students another reason to consider attending Illinois Wesleyan.”

 Bridges said a search for a men’s lacrosse coach will begin immediately with a similar search for a women’s coach to begin next spring. Lacrosse home games will be at Tucci Stadium.

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Saint Mary's College (IN DIII) Adds Lacrosse

September 14, 2012 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—Saint Mary's College is proud to announce that lacrosse will be added as a varsity sport beginning in the 2013-14 academic year.

The addition of lacrosse to the varsity athletic program will give Saint Mary's nine varsity sports, all of which compete in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) as a Division III member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Currently, more than 200 NCAA Division III member institutions sponsor women's lacrosse as a varsity sport.

"Increasing our athletic opportunities is always exciting," said Julie Schroeder-Biek, director of Athletics. "With the addition of lacrosse as a championship sport in our league this year, transitioning our well established lacrosse club to the varsity level could not happen at a better time. We feel quite confident that our team will not only be ready to play in 2014, but that we will be competitive from the start of our varsity program."

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The Prospect Lacrosse League Launches

The Prospect Lacrosse League, which is the first professionally organized summer collegiate lacrosse league in North America, officially announced its presence today. The league, which will play its first games in the Summer of 2013, will consist of four-teams in its Inaugural Season all based in the Chicago and surrounding markets.

Made up exclusively of collegiate players with NCAA eligibility left, the Prospect Lacrosse League will operate with the purpose of the development of future Major League Lacrosse (MLL) players as well as other leagues just like how summer collegiate baseball does with the development of future Major League Baseball (MLB) players.

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Wingate University Adds Women's Lacrosse

Wingate, N.C.----Wingate University vice president and director of athletics Steve Poston announces the addition of women’s lacrosse as the school’s 20th intercollegiate sport. The Bulldogs will begin play in the 2014 season.

“Lacrosse is one of the most rapidly growing sports in the Southeast,” Wingate president Dr. Jerry McGee says. “We are confident this new program will bring a group of outstanding scholar athletes and an exciting spectator environment to our campus.”

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