The Utah Utes Will Be The Next D1 Lacrosse Program In 2019
Inside Lacrosse – The University of Utah Board of Trustees will vote Friday to approve President David W. Pershing’s recommendation that men’s lacrosse be added as a varsity sport, according to a USLacrosseMagazine.com report and public documents.
Additionally, sources have told Inside Lacrosse that assuming Board approval, the Utes will debut vs. a varsity schedule in the spring of 2019 and Brian Holman will be named the head coach. A press conference will be set to announce the decisions.
Huuuuuuge news for the sport of lacrosse as the NCAA will finally have it’s first PAC-12 conference school go varsity in the sport. The Utes took over the club scene last year after starting off the year with a win over Chapman, and the state in general is becoming more of a hot bed for recruiting.
Teams like Oregon, Arizona State, Stanford, Colorado, Cal and Washington have all had club lacrosse programs for a while now. Cal finished the season ranked #3 in the MCLA, Colorado at 5, Arizona State at 7, Utah at 10, Colorado State at 12 and Oregon at 13. So at the MCLA level, the Pac-12 schools are all doing very well for themselves. With Utah making the jump to the NCAA, hopefully that opens up the flood gates for more big schools out west to follow. Obviously there are a ton of obstacles in the way in order to make that happen. Specifically Title IX issues. But this is still a huge first step in the right direction toward growing the game.
I’m not stupid. I understand where lacrosse is at right now. The best conferences in lacrosse right now are the B1G, the ACC and the Ivy. That’s not exactly the most inclusive and accessible array of schools. When you’ve got teams like Duke and Johns Hopkins always near the top of the rankings, that’s how you get your public perception as a sport just for rich preppy white kids who need something to do for 4 years before they start to work for their dad’s law firm after graduation. I get it. I really do.
But as more big schools out west start to make the jump to the NCAA, there will be more opportunity. When there is more opportunity for scholarship money, more kids will be inclined to play. And when more kids are playing the sport, the popularity of the game overall increases and with increased popularity comes more interest in a professional league and maybe 10 years from now we won’t have to either pay to watch Major League Lacrosse games online or just catch one game per week on Twitter. Plus–if more Pac-12 teams get varsity D1 programs, that means we’ll have those Saturday night 10pm games on TV to bet the over on while you’re out at the bar.