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.