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Onto The Next One: Major UConn Donor Tells School’s AD To Add Men’s Lacrosse

Your move, UConn!

NCAA Womens Basketball: Tulsa at Connecticut David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

On December 4th, the University of Connecticut announced that the UConn Foundation received a $22.5 million dollar donation to support student innovation and entrepreneurship from Peter Werth, an entrepreneur and honorary UConn doctorate recipient. The donation will go to found the Peter J. Werth Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

While the donation is a great thing for UConn and its students, what’s great for lacrosse fans everywhere is that in the middle of his speech during the announcement, Werth charismatically instructed UConn’s AD to round up all the rich alums in Fairfield County and put together a men’s lacrosse program. Werth brought the house down when he dropped his proclamation. The video of the entire ceremony is directly below and I’ve transcribed the lacrosse portion below the video. The key part starts at the 26:36 mark. (Hat tip to The Lax Growth Blog & University of Pennsylvania Assistant Coach Ryan Danehy for the link.)

Today we’re announcing a transformative gift to the University of Connecticut!

Posted by UConn Alumni on Monday, December 4, 2017

Werth: And actually for our AD, I think, we got, somebody ought to go down to Fairfield County and get some of these very rich people and have them come up with about $10 or $15 million dollars to get a men’s lacrosse program in here.

Audience: Clapping and uproarious laughter.

Werth: I know you don’t have the money (inaudible) I think, because I guarantee you if you get that going, within three years you’ll have a national championship.

Werth: *Points to AD*

First off, Werth crushed it. I have a feeling that part might have been extemporaneous. If you notice there’s a bit of a pause and a “Well, since I have you all gathered here ...” moment before he makes his comment about lacrosse. Given the setting and the nature of the donation, you wouldn’t think lacrosse would be a part of Werth’s speech. Maybe he had the lacrosse portion written in his notes beforehand, but it would be great if it was just a spur of the moment thing for Werth. You can go off-script like that when you’re a boss. Stay in school kids.

Many lacrosse fans have been saying that UConn should move to Division I. Indeed, back in 2013 an article from the CTPost mentioned that the desire for a D1 program at UConn was strong within the state.

Today, Brameier has coached 70 All-Americans at Darien, among the nation's most accomplished high school programs. The game has grown by leaps and bounds, particularly in Connecticut.

And UConn still has a club team.

"It's a shame that we have over 80 high school varsity teams (in Connecticut) and we don't have a men's program at the No. 1 state school to go with it," Brameier said.

Most likely, it will remain a shame for the foreseeable future. A UConn athletic department spokesman said the school is "aware of the sport's popularity at the collegiate level and the state level," but plans to institute varsity men's lacrosse "are not on the front burner."

(Emphasis mine.)

There are obviously hurdles to adding Division I men’s lacrosse at a big school like UConn, but given the abundance of talent in the area and UConn’s big name, the school could probably put together a competitive product within 3-5 years. But, it’ll take some cash. Indeed, as I always say, “’Money Talks’ isn’t just a reasonably entertaining movie with Chris Tucker, it’s a fact of life.” It’s one thing for fans and bloggers to be clamoring for lacrosse at UConn, it’s another thing when a big money donor like Mr. Werth bluntly echoes those sentiments. Hopefully his comment lit a fire on the AD’s back burner.