Frequently Asked Questions on the Addition of Men's Lacrosse and Changes in the University of Richmond Athletic Program
1. How did the University reach this decision?
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 April 2011 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.
That assessment involved more than a year of extensive study and analysis of the most effective means for fulfilling the University's athletic strategic plan, which includes a commitment to enable our student-athletes to achieve ambitious academic, athletic, and personal aspirations, and to compete successfully for conference championships and national recognition. This reconfiguration of the athletic program and the prospect of building a nationally regarded men's lacrosse program put the University in the best position to meet those objectives and more fully leverage our athletic assets.
The analysis leading up to this decision was conducted by an internal task force that included representatives from athletics, the faculty, and administration. Over the past year, the task force shared data and emerging findings with the University's Board of Trustees on multiple occasions before the trustees were asked to consider a recommendation that the University add men's lacrosse as a Division I sport and discontinue sponsoring men's soccer and men's indoor and outdoor track and field at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.
2. Why add lacrosse and discontinue other men's sports?
After extensive analysis, the University concluded that this reconfiguration of the athletic program and the prospect of building a nationally regarded men's lacrosse program put the University in the best position to achieve objectives established in the athletic strategic plan and more fully leverage our athletic assets. These changes will result in a new $3 million athletic endowment and more resources for other Olympic sports, while reducing the total number of Division I sports.
Men's lacrosse is an excellent fit for the University and will be well positioned to compete for conference championships and attain national recognition. Lacrosse is the fastest-growing male high school sport and one of the fastest growing NCAA men's sports. Because there are only 65 Division I men's lacrosse teams, the University has the opportunity to build a highly competitive men's lacrosse program while the field is still relatively small. The University can effectively recruit in areas where the popularity of high school lacrosse is rapidly expanding. In addition, there is strong interest in lacrosse on campus and among alumni, as demonstrated by the success of the championship club lacrosse team.
The only practical way for the University to add men's lacrosse is to substitute it for other men's Division I sports. The University is proud of the accomplishments and contributions of the members of the men's indoor and outdoor track and soccer teams. However, given the objectives of the athletic strategic plan, men's lacrosse is the right fit at the University of Richmond.
3. What happens to the student-athletes? Do they have any other choices?
The University will honor athletic scholarships for the current student-athletes until they graduate or for a period equal to their remaining NCAA eligibility. The athletic department will also assist those student-athletes who wish to transfer in order to compete at another school. Many of the men's indoor and outdoor track student-athletes are also members of the cross country team and will be able to continue to compete on the men's cross country team and in limited track meets, although they will not be eligible for post-season competition or NCAA championships in track and field.
4. What will happen to the coaches of the affected teams?
The men's track coaches will remain with the University as part of the coaching staff of the men's and women's cross country teams and the women's indoor and outdoor track and field teams. The head men's soccer coach is on an interim appointment that is scheduled to end after the men's soccer season. The University will work with the assistant coach for men's soccer to facilitate his transition to a new position at another institution.
5. Will additional University funds be required to support the new lineup of intercollegiate teams?
No. A principle of the athletic strategic plan is to enhance the student-athlete experience in ways that do not require additional institutional resources. These changes will result in a new $3 million athletic endowment funded by multiple donors and will allow the University to invest more in the success of our remaining Olympic sports through the use of external funding, while reducing the total number of Division I sports.
6. If the public can raise the necessary funds, would the eliminated programs be reinstituted?
No. The reconfiguration of the athletic program is a complex, strategic decision that takes into consideration a number of factors, including competitive success, high school and college sports participation rates, and resource requirements. No single factor or consideration dominated the analysis. The conclusion was reached that this course of action will best position the University's athletic program for the future.
7. Are other teams being considered for elimination?
No. The task force did not recommend discontinuing any other teams.
8. How does this decision affect Title IX at the University of Richmond?
The University is committed to gender equity in its athletic program, and this decision supports the University's continued compliance with Title IX.
9. Is there an opportunity for the student-athletes to participate on the club soccer team?
Yes. Those interested in competing for the club team or the University's intramural program should contact Tom Roberts at (804) 289-8912 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10. What are the plans for the lacrosse program?
We are planning for the men's club lacrosse program to transition to NCAA Division I status by the spring of 2014. Additional information regarding the men's lacrosse program will be provided in the near future.