Inside Lacrosse's Terry Foy -- the hardest working man in lacrosse or possibly on the planet -- talked with Richmond Athletic Director Jim Miller about the school's process around elevating its men's lacrosse program from club to varsity status. Miller's comments don't exactly illustrate the complete complexity of Richmond's decision to sponor men's lacrosse while slashing two other athletic offerings, but they do shed a little light as to why the Spiders wanted to put a varsity men's team on the field. Here are some selected tid-bits from the transcript:
IL: What was the particular impetus to add men's lacrosse?
JM: The general view is that, whatever angle you come from, lacrosse or Richmond, 'If we had a blank slate, would we add lacrosse at Richmond?' The answer was clearly yes. There are less than 100 teams. Lacrosse is played at the high schools that we generally recruit from. Lacrosse programs in the area are generally good. It's a major spring sport that could produce crowds. Facilities-wise, we didn't have a grass field on campus that soccer wanted and lacrosse was very happy to play on field turf, which we have at the football stadium.
DE-FAULT! DE-FAULT! DE-FAULT! So, soccer cut off its nose to spite its face? That's . . . that seems a little silly. Although, Miller's dropping of the refrain that we've all heard before -- low impediments to competition due to a small-ish competition field in terms of volume; local pockets of the game that are thriving that the university will look to piggy-back on; growth potential at the preparatory level has the possibility of pulling in crowds at the collegiate level; etc. -- makes me think that Richmond approached the processed similar to the host of schools that have recently preceded the Spiders' decision to enter Division I. I still think that's ambiguous decision-making as the return on value isn't rock-solid yet, but that doesn't erode the fact that Richmond's decision, ultimately, is good for the game.
This, however, raises a different issue specifically in the case of Richmond: Soccer has been one of the strongest growing games in the United States for the last 30 or 40 years; if Richmond, in part, is basing its decision on adding lacrosse due to the growth and strength of the game around the Richmond area and other areas where Richmond recruits students, how does this substantially differ from potential around soccer at Richmond (and that sport got cut)? Just a thought.
IL: Do you plan to hire the club coaching staff or conduct a national search?
JM: We're conducting a national search. [Current club coach] Glenn Carter is a candidate for that position and we're looking to hire a coach for the intercollegiate team as soon as possible.
There was heavy interest around Michigan when the Wolverines put on a coaching search (a search that eventually ended with John Paul getting a shot to lead the program into varsity status). How will Richmond draw candidates? (There is lots of chatter about Glenn Carter's role at Richmond and the names that may pop up in a national coaching search.)
And, of course, the biggest question going . . .
IL: Richmond is in the Atlantic 10 in most sports, but CAA in football. How do you see the conference selection process advancing?
We've talked to commissioners in several conferences and obviosuly we couldn't be very specific because the board hadn't even voted at the time. It's too early to speculate where we'd even end up.
This implies that Richmond is talking to conferences that currently exist; I'm not sure that Richmond is looking -- right now -- to forge ahead a new "southern conference." Outside of the CAA and ECAC, I can't see the Spiders legitimately talking to any other conference right now, but crazier things have happened (like Richmond announcing in late-September that it is planning to put a men's varsity lacrosse team on the field for Spring 2014).