Lacrosse is a surging sport nationally,
especially at academically rigorous suburban, public and Catholic high schools. Students from such schools represent a core demographic of the Marquette student profile. The sport is a natural fit for the athletic profile and programming of Marquette. The University currently offers the Division I minimum of 14 sports, six of which are men’s and women’s cross country, indoor track and outdoor track. Being early to market would be a critical benefit in Marquette Athletics’ commitment to athletic excellence, as well as an admissions asset. Now is the time to launch men’s and women’s lacrosse at the intercollegiate level at Marquette University. Please review the following information for better understanding of the benefits and challenges of launching the programs.
Background and Positioning of Lacrosse
in the United States Lacrosse is currently
High school participation in lacrosse grew 528% from 1990 to 2008 according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
the fastest growing sport in the
Youth participation (under age 15) saw a 12.1% increase with more than 30,000 players picking up the sport in 2009 according to US Lacrosse.
United States College play also increased at a sizable rate of 6%, with 557 men's and women's NCAA teams (all divisions) competing in 2009, according to US Lacrosse.
Moving out of its New York and East Coast origins, lacrosse is growing at the high school level in the Upper Midwest. For example, in Wisconsin and Illinois the sport is becoming offered widely enough to move into the mainstream of high school championship administration. Men’s and women’s lacrosse are BIG EAST Conference sports. Women’s lacrosse has been a BIG EAST championship sport since 2001 and the BIG EAST added men’s lacrosse as a league sport during the 2009-10 season.
Reasons to Start
Lacrosse at Marquette
Early to Market. At present there are only two Division I men’s lacrosse programs (Notre Dame, Detroit Mercy) in the five-state region of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. There are only three Division I women’s lacrosse programs in the same five-state region (Notre Dame, Detroit Mercy and Northwestern). 82% of Marquette undergraduate students are from these five states! Although there is talk of colleges starting lacrosse, at present there are only two Division I men’s lacrosse programs west of the Mississippi River, the University of Denver and the Air Force Academy. Adopting men’s lacrosse at this time would give Marquette the advantage of being early to market in a growing sport before other Division I institutions adopt the sport. Being early to market will provide Marquette the opportunity to establish a presence as a Midwestern lacrosse power with others playing catch up. The growth of the game at the high school level is deepening and broadening the talent pool in the Upper Midwest. For example, a year ago the Illinois High School Association’s Board of Directors approved boys’ and girls’ lacrosse to become State Championship sports in the spring of 2011. Sixty-nine IHSA high schools currently field lacrosse programs. Additionally, there is also an organization in Wisconsin affiliated with US Lacrosse whose mission it is to grow the sport in the state, the Wisconsin Lacrosse Federation. Many Wisconsin high schools and communities are very active in this organization.
Big East Conference.
The BIG EAST has a strong brand in lacrosse, particularly men’s lacrosse. Marquette would experience growing pains due to the strength of the conference in lacrosse but would enjoy the benefits of affiliation with the BIG EAST lacrosse brand.
Seven teams in the BIG EAST currently field varsity men’s teams: Syracuse, Georgetown, Villanova, Notre Dame, Rutgers, St. John’s and Providence. Syracuse is the gold standard in the nation for men’s lacrosse with 10 national championships. Notre Dame’s men’s team was the 2010 NCAA runner up. Georgetown and Villanova have also been top-20 programs. Eight BIG EAST schools sponsor Division I women’s lacrosse with one other program as a women’s lacrosse-only member of the league: Syracuse, Georgetown, Villanova, Notre Dame, Rutgers, Louisville, Cincinnati and Connecticut with Loyola (Md.) as the associate member of the conference. BIG EAST women’s lacrosse is also strong. Georgetown, Syracuse, Villanova and Notre Dame are all top-25 women’s lacrosse programs.
Admission Demographics. High school lacrosse is principally played by the types
of schools from which Marquette already heavily recruits undergraduates. These are schools from which Marquette needs to attract students, regardless of athletic prowess, as a matter of course. As an equivalency sport where student-athletes receive partial athletic scholarships and not “full rides,” it may well be possible, for example, to recruit a Loyola Academy student-athlete for $5,000 to $10,000 of athletic aid and the opportunity to play BIG EAST lacrosse, without that opportunity of participation would choose a different school than Marquette or require a much higher regular financial aid award in order to choose Marquette for college.
The lacrosse community is passionate about the growth of the sport. As only the third NCAA Division I program in the Upper Midwest, Marquette will readily tap into that source of support. Marquette currently sponsors both men’s and women’s club lacrosse.
Spring Spectator Sport. Lacrosse is a spring spectator sport with the NCAA championship concluding in late May. Lacrosse is relatively easy for fans to learn and understand; put the ball in the net to score. As such, it provides an outlet for campus life and community that follows the end of the basketball season in March; this is an opportunity lacking with the current spring sport offerings.
Facilities and Equipment. Facility and equipment needs are relatively modest. The Valley Fields football field is already marked for lacrosse. In due time, spectator seating would likely need to be addressed but that is not a short-term issue beyond modest portable bleachers like those already at Valley Fields. Equipment needs are relatively modest with helmets, padding and sticks comprising the fundamental costs.
Operating Budget. Operating budgets for lacrosse, including salaries, are relatively modest. The combined operating cost for men’s and women’s lacrosse in the BIG EAST is currently about $1.8 million. More than $1 million of that amount is athletic scholarship aid, an expense for lacrosse but funded tuition revenue for the university.
Launching men’s and women’s lacrosse
AT THE NCAA DIVISION I LEVEL AT MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY IS
critical and timely
TO MARQUETTE’S ABILITY TO:
Be an early entrant into the collegiate lacrosse market in the Midwest. Enhance positioning within the BIG EAST as a viable, broad-based athletic program. Appeal to a target audience of many young men and women who have an appetite for lacrosse and a Marquette education. Establish a spring spectator sport with great national potential with moderate investment.
Can we count on you? Be a part of the Marquette Lacrosse Founders Club! This visionary opportunity will require the financial assistance of many alumni and friends of Marquette University. There are several ways that you can assist Marquette in launching lacrosse:
Establish a named endowed scholarship for a lacrosse student-athlete (minimum gift commitment of $50,000 or more, payable over five years or fewer).
Provide lacrosse facility enhancement ($10,000 - $100,000).
Assist with lacrosse operating expenses ($1,000 - $10,000 annually).
Consider Marquette Lacrosse in your estate plans.
Commit to a current-use scholarship for a lacrosse student-athlete through the Blue & Gold Fund ($1,000 - $10,000 annually).
Endow the Men’s or Women’s Lacrosse Head Coaching position (gift of $1 million or more, payable over five years).
Please call or e-mail Mark Wright, Managing Director of Development for Athletics at (414)288-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have any questions. Also, visit www.gomarquette.com for the latest news about Marquette Athletics.
Marquette University Athletics
Al McGuire Center
770 North 12th Street
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Published on Dec 17, 2010
Published on Dec 17, 2010
Lacrosse is a surging sport nationally, especially at academically rigorous suburban, public and Catholic high schools. Students from such s...