May 25, 2011
University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on different topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All of his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
At Michigan Athletics, we are relentlessly striving to make Michigan Athletics the leaders and best in every way. We believe one of the strategies that can keep us progressing toward our goal is to GROW in every way. We want to be leading the way in collegiate athletics as we grow our number of sports, our number of student-athletes, our revenues, our donors, the number of championships we compete for ... and the number of fans who connect with our teams and programs.
I believe today's announcement of the elevation of men's and women's lacrosse to varsity status at the University of Michigan is totally consistent with our strategy.
Over the last 15 years there has been a 10 percent compounded growth rate in the number of athletes participating in lacrosse on a national level. In the state of Michigan, over the past 10 years 130 men's and women's high school teams have been added, making lacrosse the fastest-growing sport. More than 6,500 boys and girls are now playing high school lacrosse in our state. The sport's growth at the youth level is even more phenomenal.
The popularity is something ESPN has already noticed. More than 70 games were televised on ESPN's platforms alone in 2011.
This Memorial Day weekend ESPN will again televise the NCAA semifinals and championship game played in Baltimore. Oh, by the way, they also will play those games in the Baltimore Ravens' NFL stadium in front of crowds in excess of 50,000 both days.
As it relates to Wolverine Lacrosse, the men's team has won three of the last four Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) National Championships and 11 of the last 13 Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association (CCLA) conference titles.
Over the past 14 years, head coach John Paul has not only built the Wolverines into a dominant, national force at the club level, he has developed an infrastructure that will allow the men to move into Division I competition in the spring of 2012.
Our women's program also has been successful. The team has captured Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) titles in 2003, '04, '05, '08 and '11 and reached the national tournament in 2006, '08, '09 and '11. Not bad for a program that didn't get its start until the mid-1990s. With just a little more time and a lot of work, we will have the women's team playing a full D-1 schedule in 2013.
Men's and women's lacrosse will provide an opportunity for 84 student-athletes to wear the maize and blue and compete at the D-1 level. We will be funding 24.6 new NCAA scholarships and providing these student-athletes with all the coaching, academic support, strength and conditioning, athletic training and medical support they will need to be successful. We will work hard to raise the necessary funds to provide them with the kind of practice and competition facilities they need and deserve. It is an exciting growth initiative for Michigan Athletics ... and one we were proud to announce today.
At a time when many other athletics programs are slashing budgets, dropping sports and shrinking, Michigan is adding sports and growing. Be proud and Go Blue!