If you were starting over from scratch, picking schools to sponsor Division I men's lacrosse, you'd probably put Boston College on that list (unless you were struck on the head with a lead pipe and unconscious or, you know, dead). It just makes sense: The Eagles are members of an athletic league that sports the most dominant and high profile lacrosse conference in the country; Boston College is situated in one of the most talent-rich areas of the nation relative to preparatory lacrosse talent; between Harvard, Massachusetts, Holy Cross, Brown, Providence, Bryant, and eventually Boston University and UMass-Lowell (not to mention potential opponents in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont), there are more than enough local schools to play that will create rivalries and keep budgetary travel costs low; Boston College's academic reputation fits the profile -- almost perfectly! -- of schools that sponsor the game and it will serve as a draw from the preparatory ranks where lacrosse talent is lusty and available; and, most importantly, the scaling to success is less pronounced that it once was with the growth of the game across the country.
So, obviously, when asked if the university had any plans to bring Division I men's lacrosse back to The Heights, new Boston College athletic director Brad Bates used 130 words to basically say, "Yeah, about that. We might have meetings to discuss whether we should have more meeting about adding men's lacrosse." To the actual quote!
We’re in the process of identifying how we resource our programs. If you think about this, athletics is, in so many ways, a marketing vehicle for the entire University. When you picked up the paper this morning you didn’t see a physics section. And so, whether it’s right or wrong, that’s the way our society is. We value sports, and so my responsibility, and the athletic department’s, is to take advantage of that social emphasis on athletics in ways that really expose Boston College to the country. So in our strategic planning process we are going to look at all programs and identify those that can be nationally competitive and nationally distinctive and figure out how we are going to resource those programs in ways that best serve the University.
Whatever. That means nothing to me. If Boston College was seriously considering putting men's lacrosse on the sponsorship list, you don't need 130 words about how athletics works and the philosophy behind it to get the point across. Honestly, I don't think Boston College is any closer to adding men's lacrosse than they were when former athletic director Gene DeFilippo basically told the world to stuff it with respect to sponsoring Division I men's lacrosse, arguing that everyone else on Earth should add hockey first and then he'd think about lacrosse.
Did Bates use a softer approach than DeFilippo? Yes. Did Bates definitively close the door on men's lacrosse? No. Are we any closer based on actionable comments that Boston College is seriously -- not more than high-level discussions; I'm talking about seriously putting this on an agenda and funding a study into whether Boston College should sponsor the sport again -- considering doing a Division I men's lacrosse thing? No. Talking about having talks and having conversations around "Where can we be competitive?" and "Where can we be distinctive?" is a nice way of saying, "We'll consider it, but, you know, football."
To be fair, though, Bates' comments do hint at Boston College potentially adopting "The Richmond Method," slashing another sport or two (like skiing, sailing, or baseball) to add men's lacrosse to the roster. I don't like slash-and-add, but it appears that if Boston College is going to pursue this thing, that's the approach that they'll take.
I still don't think Boston College is on the verge of having a men's analogue to their women's program in the near future, but if you're going to point to something as a glimmer of hope, it's that Boston College is going to assess everything that they're currently offering. (This, I should note, does not necessarily mean that there will be additions for any possible subtractions. Contraction, especially in this fiscal climate, is always a possibility.)
What do you guys think? Are you more optimistic than I am?