Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Five Good Minutes: Men's Lacrosse Issue

Jeff: We welcome back BCI reader Kevin to talk about his passion - men's lacrosse.


Kevin: Fairfield University, Hartford, Quinnipiac, Sacred Heart, Yale, Harvard, Holy Cross, Massachusetts, Dartmouth, Brown, Bryant, Providence, Vermont, Boston College ... Which one does not belong?

If you guessed Boston College, you're right! Boston College - in addition to Boston University - is one of the few major New England schools that doesn't have a men's Lacrosse program. In addition to those 13 schools, an additional 14 lie in New York.

Why isn't Boston College one of these teams?

Some say the money, others say lack of previous BC men's lacrosse success. For the money, lacrosse has a great market along the Eastern seaboard, and the sport's popularity is increasing nationwide. I mean if we have a skiing team, then why the hell don't we have a lacrosse team? When is the last time any of you current or former students visited a BC ski meet? No offense to any one in the program, but, it is simply not a high-demand sport.

For the lack of success, BC's men's lacrosse program, which ended in 2002, never won any sort of championship (although I can't seem to find any good info on it). However, this can be pointed to the fact that lacrosse was not as major of a sport as it is now. Since 2002, boy's high school lacrosse participation has increased from over 40,000 players to over 80,000. Clearly, with the increase in interest, a potential BC lacrosse team, with some decent recruiting effort, could make a small impact in the four team ACC.

Oh, and another fun stat. Since 1990, both men's and women's lacrosse participation has increased 528%. Can you say WTF?

Jeff: I feel many people look at the list of varsity sports that BC offers and are quick to jump and say why do we have a skiing team and not lacrosse? Or Brian's favorite, why do we have men's tennis and not lacrosse?

What the average fan seems to not understand is that Title IX does not call for a proportionate number of varsity sports between men and women but it calls for a proportionate number of scholarships, dollars spent, and athletes. It takes several women's sports to balance out a school's football program. Therefore, tennis and skiing teams would be too small to balance out a lacrosse team.

Right now, BC has 16 women's varsity programs to only 13 men's teams. Unfortunately, fielding a varsity men's lacrosse program is complicated.

I do agree that lacrosse is one of, if not the, fastest growing sports in the country. With that said though, where I live in South Carolina, there are no recreation lacrosse teams or high school lacrosse teams in the area and consequently, if you go to Dick's Sporting Goods, there is not a single lacrosse stick or piece of equipment. It is interesting that Duke and UNC have become powerhouses just a little north of here while the sport has not really gotten into South Carolina.

Should BC get a lacrosse program in the future, do you think playing in the ACC and going against Duke, North Carolina and Virginia will help them build and recruit for the program just as the ACC move helped baseball?

Kevin: Well, all signs would point to yes as far as recruiting goes. Not only is there Duke, North Carolina and Virginia but there's also Maryland, our closest ACC neighbor and biggest lacrosse state in the nation. I would say it's pretty much the same as college baseball except for a regional switch because baseball isn't really followed too much in Maryland or any of the northeast. It may take a few years, but playing lacrosse in the ACC has the potential to be incredibly successful.

As for the lack of southern participation, it is starting to pick up in neighboring states (as you said North Carolina is incredibly big on lacrosse). It's also picking up in places as far south as Florida (I know of a few high schools who recently started up programs, so, hopefully it would pick up attention by colleges). It's really only a matter of time before lacrosse can compete with other sports like basketball (I also should note that the NCAA Lacrosse Championship attendance was only passed by the Final Four).

Jeff: Thanks for the info on lacrosse, Kevin. I hope that BC gets a program eventually but I would not count on it too soon. Thanks to Title IX, it's very complicated.


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18 comments:

John said...

I'm a former BC rower and the same thing can be said about our team...except we did and do win championships.

Kevin said...

John, I'm fully aware of the BC Rowing Team (and also sailing teams) success throughout the years. But obviously you look at sports like tennis, who were 0-12 in the ACC and only won 8 (I think) games in non-conference play.

Kevin said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff said...

Whether or not a sport is played at the Varsity level is not simply about wins and losses so I don't think 1 season's tennis stats are relevant. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe no scholarships are offered for tennis, though. If no scholarships were offered for lax, we would not be competitive in that sport either.

John's comment relates to the fact that rowing is not a varsity sport now, but rowing has been very successful.

BCMike said...

Nice Hartford Hawks shout-out!

I'd love to see BC get a MEN's Lax team. I know there are a lot of good kids playing a lot of other sports, but this would be an instant hit for us, I would think.

Erik said...

Lax is much bigger in Mass now than it was the year they shut the program down. So that is a good argument to bring the program back.

I think that since there's only 4 ACC teams playing, that we aren't feeling any pressure from the league to get a team going. If 3-4 other ACC schools stepped up and announced a Lax team is starting, then BC would feel a little pressure to take part.

If that ever happened, it would flood the league with bad (because they're new) teams and that could either hurt the strong teams or just lead to a ton of @ss kickings.

If BC ever got the money to fund lax plus one more womens team of equal size, what womens sport would it be? They already have a million. They'd have to go to bowling, badminton, ultimate frisbee, curling, etc.

Eagle in Brighton said...

Though logistically, it will take years (if at all) to get a varsity program, theoretically a lacrosse program is a perfect addition to BC athletics program.

You guys definitely cover the bases as to why it is a great fit: the regional affinity of the lacrosse "heartland" and the BC student body (NC/Maryland to PA/NJ up through New England); the fact it is the fastest growing sport in the nation (CA, FLA, Midwest- like KC/STL); the prevalence of talent/interest among the student body; revenue potential ('09 final four drew nearly 50k); recruiting potential (regional proximity and strength at Catholic high schools and Prep schools); as well as the shocking similarity between DI lax programs and those academic/ACC/Catholic universities with which we associate ourselves (i.e. Ivies, JHU; UNC, Duke, UVA, UMD; GTown, ND; as well as local haunts such as UMass and 'Cuse).

It needs to happen, but it really won't see the light of day until GDF is gone (at least from what his public comments on the matter have indicated).

In this climate, adding a balancing woman's program seems out of the question. The issue for at least superficial debate becomes what mens programs would be cut to make room.

One would need a balance sheet and scholarship numbers to propose something, but I would volunteer skiing, XC, or swimming for the boot.

Jeff said...

I might be wrong on this but I believe dual swim meets involve the girls and guys swimming against another school simultaneously, so that eliminates eliminating swimming. XC might be the same thing too??

Unfortunately, adding lax is going to require further ammendments to Title IX (there have already been some) or adding women's sports rathing than subtracting men's sports. So whatever a lax program costs, double that to cover the new women's sports as well. It ain't cheap.

NYCeagle said...

We need a fucking lax team...every prestigious school in the country has one. Looks incomplete and pathetic not to have one. One day, we will have one...I am sure. Boston College will be a top 15 school academically and will have the best OVERALL sports program in the country.

Eagle in Brighton said...

I agree, it is an embarrassing omission. Eventually, we should have a team, but it will take too long and require too many bureaucratic hurtles than it should as Jeff has alluded too.

A shame, but a fight worth having.

Brian said...

I'm late to the discussion, but what I don't understand is that I know through a buddy of mine (who was on the lacrosse team as it went from varsity to club) that wealthy donors are lined up to completely fund the program.

As Jeff pointed out, however, it's complicated. Gene runs an athletic program with the most varsity sports of any school in the ACC. I don't think this will happen as long as GDF is at the helm. It will take a change of leadership at the top to ever get a varsity men's lacrosse program.

Jeff said...

The scholarships alone for a lax team would total over $1,000,000 a year. Add to that coaches, equipment, travel, etc. And let's say the program costs $2,000,000 annually. There are really alumni prepared to donate that kind of money in perpetuity? Just so that they can have a team which they'll likely never see on tv?

Brian said...

Yes. That is the speculation on a few of the message boards.

Kevin said...

Lax is on TV quite often down here, and I imagine in other places where lax is quite big.

JB said...

You are ignoring one crucial factor here… you don’t NEED scholarships to have a Men’s Lax program. For example, Notre Dame offers zero scholarships for Men’s lacrosse, and they were in the Final Four several years back. It would obviously help get stud recruits if you could offer a free ride, but it’s definitely not essential to bringing back the program and making it competitive.

Even top programs like UVA and Hopkins only give out 10 to 12 scholarships total across the entire team. So forget the Title IX issues for now – it’s only a matter of BC not wanting to pony up for the cost of the team…

Jeff said...

Not offering scholarships does not eliminate Title IX issues. It only cuts down on cost. Starting a lax team means adding womens programs as well.

JB said...

I am no Title IX expert, but is it written somewhere that we definitely need to add a women's team if we add a men's team without scholarships? It sounds more like a series of subjective tests that need to be passed based on the below principles, not a formula of exact numbers. I feel that given the current larger number of women's teams, we could still "pass."

1. Prong one - Providing athletic opportunities that are substantially proportionate to the student enrollment, OR
2. Prong two - Demonstrate a continual expansion of athletic opportunities for the underrepresented sex, OR
3. Prong three - Full and effective accommodation of the interest and ability of underrepresented sex.

I may very well be wrong on this...

nation said...

i believe limit of schollies is around 12, so not $1,000,000 but $600k in schollies. still a big number. GTown got their program fully funded by alums($5,000,000). i know--i know a couple of them. Gene D hates lax. he's asking for way over and above the necessary number to start the program(and yes, there are plenty of alums that will buck up---i don't know if there are enough, though). his excuses ?? 1) title IX. 2)available fields for practice time(which will be alleviated with the new property). 3) it is NOT an ACC sport. tennis is. and 4) if anything, he's looking to cut down on the number of sports programs at BC. we have more than anyone in the conference. our spring programs are pathetic(TY for this year baseball team !!). a men's Lax squad would certainly juice up the alumni base between basketball and football seasons.