September 21, 2012 – In order to achieve the objectives established in our April 2011 athletic strategic plan, the University of Richmond athletic department is adding men’s lacrosse as an NCAA Division I intercollegiate sport. The addition of men’s lacrosse is part of a reconfiguration of our athletic program that was approved by the University’s Board of Trustees. This reconfiguration discontinues the University’s sponsorship of men’s soccer and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, effective at the conclusion of their 2012-13 seasons. The athletic department will continue to sponsor the men’s cross country program. We are planning for the men’s club lacrosse team to transition to a Division I team by the spring of 2014.
A successful Division I athletic department, like any successful organization, cannot remain static. 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. As the University strives to provide the best undergraduate education and ensure access and affordability, it is essential that the University consider the most effective deployment of its resources. These changes will result in a new $3 million athletic endowment funded by multiple donors and additional resources for other Olympic sports, while reducing the total number of Division I sports.
While this reconfiguration serves the best interests of the majority of our current and future student-athletes, we recognize how disappointing this decision is for our men’s soccer and men’s track and field student athletes, their families, coaches, and our track and soccer alumni. We are proud of the men who have competed as Spiders in soccer and track and field, and grateful for their many contributions to the University of Richmond.
The University will make every effort to assist those students affected by this decision. For current students who choose to continue their undergraduate education at the University of Richmond, we will honor their athletic scholarships until they graduate or for a period equal to their remaining NCAA eligibility. The University will grant immediate releases to student-athletes who choose to transfer and compete for another university.
Most members of the men’s indoor and outdoor track teams are also members of the cross country team. They will be able to continue to participate in cross country and compete in limited track meets, although they will not be eligible for postseason competition or NCAA championships in track and field.
Beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year, the University will sponsor 17 NCAA Division I teams. All compete in the Atlantic 10, except women’s golf and football, which compete in the Colonial Athletic Association. Men’s lacrosse will seek associate membership status in an existing NCAA men’s lacrosse conference.
The University of Richmond athletic department serves approximately 360 student-athletes.