May 25, 2011
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon announced today (Wednesday, May 25) the elevation of men’s and women’s lacrosse to varsity status. The men’s program will begin NCAA Division I varsity competition in the 2011-12 academic year, and the women’s program will be ready for NCAA Division I varsity competition in the 2012-13 academic year.
“Our department has carefully considered the elevation of lacrosse to varsity status, and we feel the time is right to make this move,” said Brandon. “The men’s program is further developed based on their history of success in the club-varsity system. We plan to build upon that success at the next level. Our women’s program will require more time to build, but I am confident within a reasonable timeframe we will become competitive nationally in women’s lacrosse.”
Michigan is the first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) conference school to add men’s lacrosse since Notre Dame added the sport in 1980 and started competition in 1981. Michigan will join Ohio State and Penn State as the only schools in the Big Ten Conference to sponsor men’s lacrosse.
U-M’s club-varsity program claimed three of the last four Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) national championships (2008, ’09, ’10) and won Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association (CCLA) conference crowns in 11 of the past 13 seasons. The club program began in 1940 and was halted before World War II, but it restarted in 1965 and has been competing ever since. The program was elevated to club-varsity status in 2001.
The men’s lacrosse program has been led by coach John Paul the past 14 seasons. He has compiled a 241-44 record. U-M has been ranked No. 1 in the MCLA poll for the better part of the past four years. The Wolverines ended the 2011 season with an 18-1 record and finished No. 3 in the poll after having their bid for a fourth straight national title dashed with a 7-6 loss to Arizona State in the MCLA semifinals.
Michigan will move quickly to finalize coaching and staffing decisions and will begin recruiting efforts for the upcoming 2012 varsity season. The athletic department will fund the full complement of 12.6 scholarships for men’s lacrosse.
The women’s lacrosse program started in the mid-1990s and reached club-varsity status in 2003. The Wolverines join five-time national champion Northwestern, two-time national champion Penn State, and Ohio State as varsity programs in the Big Ten. Michigan has claimed the Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) title six times since 2002, including 2011, and was the Women’s Division Intercollegiate Associates (WDIA) national runner-up in 2006.
The women’s lacrosse program has been under the direction of recently retired coach Jen Dunbar since the start of the 2008 season. She posted a record of 62-25, including a 15-6 record in 2011. A national coaching search will commence immediately for the women’s lacrosse program in preparation for its inaugural season in 2013. The full complement of 12 scholarships will be funded for women’s lacrosse.
The last men’s sport to be elevated to varsity status at Michigan was men’s soccer, and the latest women’s addition was water polo. Both programs began varsity competition during the 2000-01 season.
The addition of both lacrosse programs brings the total number of University of Michigan varsity teams to 29 (14 men’s, 15 women’s).