Richmond Lacrosse: Forum'd

Richmond held a forum to discuss its decision to add men's lacrosse and drop indoor and outdoor track and soccer. It was forum-y.

That video up there will give you the juice on Richmond's recent forum to discuss the school's decision to add men's lacrosse to its varsity offerings while simultaneously cutting men's indoor and outdoor track, but here's the short of the long of the moving images: a bunch of people are still looking to head down to Home Depot for pitchforks and torches so that they can get some answers the old fashioned way -- angrily with romantic violence (sort of).

I've probably spent way too many words on this situation, but I'm still interested in is how and why Richmond got to its decision to add varsity men's lacrosse and join the growing tide of Division I newcomers. Luckily, reporter-type people exist.

RichmondBizSense.com (it's obviously an edgy and youthful publication given how the site shortens the word "business") published a story detailing some interesting stuff about how the Spiders' lacrosse situation. Pertinently:

Ayers, who at times seemed exasperated by interruptions at the forum, said the lacrosse program will cost the school about $400,000 a year. He said a $3 million multi-person donation would serve as an endowment to fund the program.

Several media outlets have speculated that one of the big donors is Paul Queally, a UR alumnus, Wall Street financier and member of the board of trustees.

* * * * *

In a document prepared by Richmond’s athletic department in advance of the decision, the school said lacrosse is the fastest growing sport among high school programs and that the school could still compete in a small Division I field.

"Because there are only [61] Division I men’s lacrosse teams, the university has the opportunity to build a highly competitive men’s lacrosse program while the field is still relatively small," the document said.

Rich folk gonna rich folk.

Even more interesting, though, is that Richmond's president, Ed Ayers, is now going on the record that he decided to cut men's soccer and indoor and outdoor track last year. If that's the case, why didn't anyone tell these programs that they were on the way out at some point so that they could try and raise some dough? If part of the reason that Richmond made the cuts was to save some cash, some advance warning allowing for some fundraising efforts may have lessened the blow. If Richmond can pull together a three million dollar donation to fund men's lacrosse, is it really out of the question that Richmond wouldn't be able to pull together similar donations to save the other sports and, potentially, fund a new women's team to keep things in Title IX compliance?

I just hope that lacrosse never becomes too expensive for Richmond to keep on its varsity roster. This is a dangerous precedent.

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