USC, Richmond Going Varsity?
from staff reports
USC currently competes in the US Lacrosse WDIA club system, but the university is considering elevating the program to varsity status.
© Dirk Dewachter
The University of Southern California is "moving strongly in the direction" of adding women's lacrosse as a varsity sport, an athletics department spokesman said Wednesday, welcome news to a California lacrosse community still digesting the announcement that the 2011 season will be the last at the University of California-Berkeley.
At about 12:30 p.m. Pacific, USC athletics broke the news on its Twitter page with a quote from athletic director Pat Haden. "We are going to add some sports," Haden said. "I believe we are going to add women's sand volleyball, and we're talking about a lacrosse program."
Sports information director Tim Tessalone confirmed the tweet.
"USC is moving strongly in that direction of adding a women's lacrosse program," Tessalone told Lacrosse Magazine Online's Clare Lochary. "Nothing has been officially announced. We hope to have more info in the near future."
USC currently competes as a member of the US Lacrosse Women's Division Intercollegiate Associates (WDIA) club system. The Trojans went 7-10 in 2010.
USC is a private university, unlike Cal-Berkeley, a state-funded institution that was forced to cut five varsity sports -- including women's lacrosse -- in the wake of a budget crisis. That announcement came Sept. 28.
According to the 2009 US Lacrosse Annual Report, "The burgeoning lacrosse scene in California is led by the San Francisco area, with more than 8,000 youth players reported by the Northern California Chapter. An additional 6,500-plus youngsters are playing the sport in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas... The Golden State has added more than 140 boys and girls programs over the last five years with 362 teams in 2009 -- a growth rate of 64 percent since 2005."
Efforts in California to get lacrosse in schools' physical education programs, and to cultivate a knowledgable population of coaches and players, have contributed to the surge.
"The electricity in the air regarding the growth of our sport is unbelievable in Southern California," said Nancy Sheinbein, president of the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of US Lacrosse, which will host the second-annual California Lacrosse Convention on Nov. 13 at Cal State Fullerton. "A Division I Program in Southern California would surely represent an even more exhilarated pace of development."
Also on Wednesday, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that the University of Richmond has elevated its men's lacrosse program to varsity club status. Former Ursinus head coach Glenn Carter has been hired fulltime to coach the Spiders, who have an annual budget of $128,000 and are looking to raise additional funds, according to the report.
Richmond initially hopes to join the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA), a club entity. But Tom Roberts, UR's director of recreation and wellness, told the Times-Dispatch that the university will evaluate going varsity in men's lacrosse over the next three years.
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