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September 21, 2012

Richmond to Add Men's Lacrosse, Drop Soccer and Track

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter | McLaughlin Archive

updated 09.21.12 at 6.21 p.m.

The University of Richmond confirmed on Friday that it will add men's lacrosse as a varsity sport by the 2014 season, and drop men's soccer and men's indoor and outdoor track and field to accommodate the addition.

Soccer and track are being eliminated to keep the school in line with Title IX regulations, the Richmond Times-Dispatch first reported earlier Friday, and the school acknowledged on its website that the decisions support compliance with Title IX.

Richmond athletic director Jim Miller said in a statement, "We are planning for the men's club lacrosse team to transition to a Division I team by the spring of 2014," and that "the prospect of building a nationally regarded men's lacrosse program," was a factor in the decision. Miller said soccer and track would be discontinued at the end of their 2012-13 seasons.

The addition of men's lacrosse brings with it to Richmond a new $3 million athletic endowment funded by multiple donors and additional resources for other Olympic sports, Miller said in the statement.

Richmond's men's lacrosse conference affiliation has not been determined -- the school said it will seek associate membership status in an existing NCAA conference -- but the team will be a Division I program and play in 8,700-seat Robins Stadium. The school also did not immediately say when it plans to hire a coach, but that additional information about the program will be provided in the "near future."

Most Richmond teams, including the Spiders women's lacrosse team, play in the Atlantic-10. They finished 10-8 overall and 5-2 in conference in 2012. Its football team plays in the Colonial Athletic Conference.

Richmond's board of trustees was meeting Thursday and Friday to discuss the topic and The Collegian, Richmond's student newspaper, reported that men's soccer players were told by Miller that soccer and men's track were being cut in favor of lacrosse at a meeting Friday afternoon.

"A successful Division I athletic department, like any successful organization, cannot remain static," Miller said in the statement. "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.

"That assessment involved more than a year of extensive study and strategic analysis that considered many factors, including competitive success, high school and college sports participation rates, and resource requirements. It focused on 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. Men's lacrosse is an excellent fit for the University and is the fastest-growing male high school sport."

The school considered adding men's lacrosse in April, but put off the decision. Two years ago the Richmond upgraded lacrosse from club status to varsity club status.

Richmond is located about a three-hour drive south of Baltimore and three hours north of the Raleigh/Durham, N.C. area. The university is a private school of about 3,000 undergraduates whose entrance requirements are "very difficult," according to CollegeData.com. Its 350-acre campus is six miles from downtown Richmond.

The school also released an extensive Q-and-A on the reasons behind Friday's decision, available here.


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