The last time that Cleveland State's Division I dreams were broadcast to the humans of Earth (and, if they're interested, aliens flying through the galaxy surveying Earth as a target for eventual destruction), the school noted that the earliest that the Vikings would enter the highest level of college lacrosse would be Spring 2017. As it turns, that timeline was less an approximation and more a hard bullseye to hit: Cleveland State is going Division I in the near future and will have one season of build up before throwing hands with the nation's best. To the press release!
Cleveland State University has announced that it will establish a varsity men's lacrosse program and begin recruiting athletes to compete in the spring season of the 2016-2017 academic year.
The addition comes as a result of a program prioritization process headed by CSU Athletics Director John Parry that explored factors including funding, competitiveness and national trends. Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. among high school athletes, and the CSU team will be the second NCAA Division I program in Ohio, joining Ohio State University.
"The addition of lacrosse brings to CSU a spectator sport that will build on the activities and excitement happening across the campus. We anticipate that students and the community will be attracted to Krenzler Field for a unique opportunity to see high-level competition," Parry said.The prioritization process mirrors efforts across the university to best align resources with programs and activities that display strong growth potential. The review resulted in the determination that university funding for men's wrestling would be discontinued following the conclusion of the 2015-2016 season. The university will explore external funding sources that if secured, could allow continuation of the program.
The Vikings will become the 70th Division I men's program when it enters competition in 2017, serving as Ohio's second Division I team. The school will have time to find a conference as its traditional home -- the Horizon League -- does not sponsor a men's lacrosse championship (interestingly, Detroit is a member of the Horizon League and runs its ball in the MAAC for lacrosse purposes).
The excitement around Cleveland State's decision to make Division I lacrosse a thing at the university is tempered by the fact that the school will cut men's wrestling if external funding is not found to sustain the program. "Cut and Add" is no good for any sport, and even though lacrosse has been the beneficiary of this method over recent seasons, the trend toward adopting this method is disappointing. There is an issue in college sports when wrestling loses 55 programs at the Division I level between 1988-89 and 2013-2014. Lacrosse could suffer the same fate in the future if "Cut and Add" isn't tempered in its deployment.