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Utah expected to add men's lacrosse as an NCAA Division I sport ...

June 16,2017 09:26

According to a posted agenda by the University of Utah's Board of Trustees, president David W. Pershing will recommend action on the establishment of men's ...and more »

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Betsey Bowen
Quinton Swinney, Utah lacrosse goalkeeper

SALT LAKE CITY — According to a posted agenda by the University of Utah’s Board of Trustees, U. President David W. Pershing will recommend action on the establishment of men’s lacrosse as a Division I sport at the school in a conference call early Friday morning.
Pershing is recommending “approval to proceed with the formation of a new Division I varsity sport as submitted to the Board of Trustees.”
A press conference featuring Utah athletics director Dr. Chris Hill has been scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. It will be carried live on pac-12.com.
“It’s just a great day for lacrosse in Utah and in the West in general. A lot of media outlets are going to pick this up and be very excited about it,” said Tim Haslam, who has handled public relations for the club program. “Lacrosse, for a long time has been dominated by the East Coast. Just until a few years ago all of the teams were in the Eastern time zone. So to see lacrosse come out West is huge.”
Utah will become the western-most school in the nation to have an NCAA Division I lacrosse team. Air Force and Denver currently hold that distinction.
“Overall it’s just great for the sport,” Haslam said.
The genesis for Utah’s lacrosse program began in the late '80s and evolved into more of a “virtual varsity” sport the following decade.
Talks involving a move to NCAA Division I status began in earnest about 18 months ago.
Pershing formed a “New Sport Working Group” in January 2017 to explore the challenges and strengths of adding lacrosse as an NCAA Division I sport. The months that followed included the conduction of a risk/benefit analysis.
The New Sport Working Group recommended approval if the sufficient and sustainable funding was secured. Other conditions included a final review of Title IX requirements that assured that there would be no adverse impacts with compliance. That led to a recommendation to transition over a span of several years to the full complement of 12.6 scholarships.
Utah currently competes at the highest level of collegiate athletics in seven men’s sports — baseball, basketball, football, golf, skiing, swimming and diving, and tennis.
Utah has NCAA teams in nine women’s sports — basketball, beach volleyball, cross country, gymnastics, skiing, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, and track and field.
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Haslam said that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott noted that the addition of men’s lacrosse would give Utah a “niche” as the first team in the conference to play at the highest level.
The Utes, under long-time North Carolina assistant coach Brian Holman, went 10-7 this past season. They had a winning record for the first time since 2010 and reached nationals for just the second time, ending a 12-year drought.
Utah dropped a 9-8 overtime decision to Chapman in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association National Tournament.
Email: dirk@deseretnews.com
Twitter: @DirkFacer

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