Michigan announced the formation of men's and women's varsity lacrosse programs this morning, A few interesting tidbits from the press conference:
- Athletic Director David Brandon said his "team" has identified lacrosse as the fastest-growing sport in America, and in Michigan. HS programs in the state have gone from 50 to 180 in the past 10 years. "It's also a great television sport," which likely means some TV down the road.
- "On the men's side, we've applied for admission to the ECAC." [ed: for a rundown on Michigan's future conference opponents check out MaizeAndBlueWahoo's excellent diary.] The application has been received, and Brandon is confident the Wolverines' bid will be accepted, saying "we have high expectations that process will happen quickly, and we are very encouraged in terms of initial feedback we have received."
- On the women's side, they will apply for admission to the ALC. Florida, Hopkins, Northwestern, Penn State, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt are the current members of that league. The Athletic Department and Michigan's coach are going to work together to set up the non-conference portion of the schedule.
- David Brandon stated that a national search will begin immediately for a women's coach, but as far as men's goes "I have a primary candidate in mind for that position." That candidate is longtime club coach John Paul. As soon as Michigan has the position publicly listed for a week (in accordance with the law), JP will be introduced as men's coach. For women's coaching candidates, Brandon said he wanted somebody with a track record of building a program from the bottom up.
- JP stated that 25 members from this season's club lacrosse roster will return to the team for next year's inaugural varsity year, including 4-time MCLA All-American Trevor Yealy, who will be a 5th-year senior. Filling out the first varsity roster for Michigan are 10 incoming recruits and several potential transfers.
- Brandon gave some love to the "Project Lacrosse Founder's Club," which was formed over the past few months. They have worked hard to ensure the necessary fundraising could be completed. Over 70 people contributed monetarily, including several "major gifts."
- "We are in the process of putting facility plans together. And what we're trying to do at Michigan Athletics, as opposed to creating one-off plans, we've really spent a lot of time of late in a master planning mode." Lacrosse has been included in the AD's "master planning process." It's still a work in progress, and Schembechler's practice fields, the Big House, the UM Soccer Stadium, and other facilities will be used in the meantime. Building their own home is in the long-term plans, though Brandon said that's at least 3 years off.
- Lacrosse is gaining momentum as a sport, and Brandon is hopeful that Michigan's programs can be a revenue-generating opportunity down the road - though that has nothing to do with why they're adding the sport. "I've seen around the country, crowds that show up in double-digit thousands for their competitions." Operating costs for both programs combined will be $3 million. That will be a big investment, but donor support is expected to be a major help.
- Brandon is most excited that 84 more athletes at the University of Michigan will have varsity athletics opportunities, and 25 new scholarships will be available for student-athletes. "What a great opportunity. At a time when a lot of Athletic Departments are shrinking and contemplating cutting sports, for us to be here adding two major sports like the ones we're adding today is something we're blessed to be able to do."
- There are no plans to add any other sports in the near future. Taking on two more is a big deal, and the Athletic Department will take some time to "digest" that before making any other moves.
- Brandon expects the men's and women's teams to both be competitive right away. "The only thing I'll tell you is: We're Michigan. We're not gonna add these sports, and we're not gonna make the financial commitment and put the time and energy that we have and will put into these if we're not prepared to go out and compete for championships." He doesn't want arbitrary timelines, but they'll evaluate the programs going forward. Competitive reasons explain why men are going in 2012, while women will start playing games in 2013.
- "The idea of featuring the sport in conjunction with the spring [football] game - because the seasons overlap from a timing perspective - I know Ohio State has done that with great success." That's something Michigan will consider going forward. Having the largest stadium available to the program will be a great opportunity. If Michigan is fortunate enough to host a first-round NCAA Tournament game down the road, they'd submit a bid for Michigan Stadium to host.
- There are a lot of rivalries available to Michigan - Ohio State, Notre Dame, and others. Lacrosse started as an Eastern regional sport, but it's spreading to the West. Colleges as far as California are considering adding the sport. "We think this is going to take us some really interesting places, and they're not all in the East." Brandon believes that forward-thinking Big Ten ADs will look at lacrosse as a new varsity sport in the future.
I'll have some more specific stuff (i.e. "stuff that's completely uninteresting to people who don't already care about lacrosse") up on GreatLaxState this afternoon. And, to close it out, the final video blog in Michigan's MCLA history, courtesy of graduating senior Pat Stansik:
After months (even years) of speculation, the University of Michigan will announce that the Athletic Department will add Men's and Women's Lacrosse as varsity sports. Sources tell mgoblog that tomorrow's noon press conference is to make the official announcement regarding lacrosse.
They are the first newcomers since men's soccer was promoted in 2000. The men will begin competition in the Spring of 2012 (that's next year!), whereas the women will have a year or two to get going. Michigan's strong men's club program (a "virtual varsity") will help that team get off the ground a little more quickly. The timeframe for the men's program comes as something of a surprise, as it gives the coaching staff hardly any time to assemble a varsity roster - or rather, it would be a surprise, if not for an InsideLacrosse report a month or so ago.
According to University of Denver coach Bill Tierney, the Wolverines will join the ECAC, which would mean games against Denver, Loyola-Maryland, Fairfield, Ohio State, Air Force, Hobart, and Bellarmine, assuming no other changes to the composition of the conference (which is not guaranteed). I would hazard a guess that Michigan would also make an effort to schedule traditional rivals like Notre Dame and Penn State in the non-conference portion of their schedule, along with geographic fit Detroit. Other possibilities include past scrimmage opponents Johns Hopkins and Army, along with a few weaker opponents (Mercer/Wagner/VMI) to hopefully pad the win column at least a little bit.
The biggest immediate question is one of venue. The club team currently competes in Oosterbaan Fieldhouse on a smaller-than-regulation field in cramped quarters. With a move to varsity status, that will no longer be sufficient, so either an existing field will need to be made available for lacrosse or a new facility in necessary. The UM Soccer Stadium is little-used in the spring, but I've heard that it's more likely that a new stadium will be built for lacrosse, either at that location or on the Southwest corner of Elbel Field (per previous plans that apparently fell through). Of course Ohio State plays in their football team's stadium, so The Big House is not out of the question, especially as a temporary or occasional venue.
Much more on lacrosse in the coming days (though to not overwhelm mgobloggers who don't care, I'll post most of it over at Great Lax State).
Mott stuff. Get thee to WTKA Friday for an opportunity to participate in their "radio-a-thon" in support of Mott Children's Hospital, where you can Donate For Stuff. This stuff:
Donations are accepted at any level but fans will receive giveaways for donating at the following levels:
$20 donation: a Fathead Teammate Block M (roughly 12”x7”)
$50 donation: a limited-edition Charles Woodson t-shirt made exclusively for this event
$120 donation: a Fathead Junior Big House Mural (17”x30”) autographed by Charles Woodson
$250 donation: four passes to a pre-season scrimmage
$500 donation: two pre-game sideline passes (does not include game tickets) to ONE of the following four games: Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, San Diego State or Minnesota.
If you are a strange, obsessive person—and you are reading this site so you probably are—you might actually find the $250 donation to be value for money on top of the heart-warming altruism. I went to the pre-season scrimmage last year; it was at least as interesting as an actual game against EMU and depending on where you sit it's actually cheaper. Last year featured the quarterback battle; this year will feature an early opportunity to reassure yourself the spring game didn't mean anything about Denard's role in the new offense. You can donate online at WTKA.com.
Over the weekend a bunch of players will return for a swank gala dinner and a golf outing, too, but the press release doesn't have any information about how to crash that. Best bet: show up at the golf course and say you're Alijah Bradley by way of explaining why you're not huge. AnnArbor.com does have details on the big baller packages they're putting up at the gala dinner, but they'll just make you sad you're not rich, unless you are.
That car totally wasn't zero dollars. Thaddeus Gibson did not get a year-old 300M for zero dollars:
BMV records show that former linebacker Thaddeus Gibson paid $13,700 for a 2007 Chrysler 300C that he bought from former Jack Maxton salesman Aaron Kniffin in June 2007.
Why the Dispatch couldn't figure this out before they ran their story is unknown but definitely the internet's fault.
Unfortunately for Ohio State, if you've been on a Michigan internet this morning you've run across three different people running Kelly Blue Book values for a 300M and coming out with a number about ten grand more than the 14k Gibson paid four years after the fact. At the time of purchase the discount relative to KBB value was probably closer to 20k. Again, this Kniffin dude has a choice between declaring the number correct—hello extra benefit—and declaring it incorrect—hello tax evasion. Hopefully we'll get to see whether the inevitable claim about a trade-in is on the up-and-up. If they were 1) giving players sweetheart deals and 2) not idiots, taking rusted out junkers as trade-ins worth 20k would provide some additional level of deniability.
Meanwhile, Chris Spielman is bracing for more:
“I’d be surprised if he’s coaching next year (2011). Why I say that is I think there is more stuff coming out,” the Ohio State legend said.
Spielman also said a bunch of other things, some very touching about his deceased wife, but everyone's focusing on that bit. I wonder if Charles Robinson's "ten of ten" Yahoo is supposedly launching in August is a pile-on? Probably not. Keep it reasonable. This section brought to you by my internal monologue FERRETS
Even if he's a Buckeye, not loving Spielman is a sin. (Via Doctor Saturday.)
Camp: back? When Rodriguez arrived he substantially revamped Michigan's camp, focusing more on individual high-level prospects in a one-day setting instead of just rounding up every football player in Michigan with a few bucks to spare. More than one emailer with connections to the local coaching community has cited that as one of the ways in which Rodriguez shoveled his own grave: while increased focus on college-level recruits may have helped land them individually the coaches who lost camp opportunities were pissed off, downward spiral, etc.
Hoke appears to be bringing back the whole shebang:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke and his coaching staff will host Wolverine Technique Schools this June for high school students (entering grades 9-12) and youth (grades 6-8).
The Wolverine Technique School for high school students will be held from June 19-23, while the youth camp will be held June 24-26 at the University of Michigan. It will mark the 37th year of the high school football camp and third youth camp.
Brady Hoke Gets It. Of course, now when you say Brady Hoke Gets It your withering sarcasm percentage is under 100% and dropping with every instate MAC recruit suddenly hearing from Michigan State.
From a fan's perspective this is probably good. While Rodriguez generally opened up the program the shift in camp philosophy meant there were a lot fewer high school coaches wandering around watching various Michigan recruits and relating impressions back to the peanut gallery. Useful information from camp dropped off considerably the last three years.
I'm not sure how much it will matter this year since it looks like Michigan is going to be well on its way to filling its class a month from now. Normally a few sleepers emerge and get offered, but if Michigan is sitting on 15 commits in June they might start swinging for the fences instead. It'll probably be more meaningful for the class of 2013—presumably Shane Morris will be on hand to make an impression on every junior in the state.
He matured into more of a guard role during his sophomore season and was labeled a “point-forward” because he brought the ball up the floor on most possessions. Definitely an unorthodox type of player with his long loopy dribbles and slow pump fakes but he gets the job the done and finds different ways to score. He has good range but is a better asset when he’s driving to the basket.
More at the link. Dylan also points out that adding Hancock would put him in the Morgan/McLimans/Horford/everybody class, swelling it to seven players. Without attrition that would see more than half the team graduate in 2014. It would also leave just one scholarship in the class of 2013 for Michigan to play with. So it's a bit more complicated than "here's this guy."
Random AD items. MGoShoe rounds up things Dave Brandon said at some sort of appearance associated with the AP. There's not a whole lot of actual new things but this is something to note:
Brandon believes it will be "several years" before the Big Ten goes to a nine-game conference schedule. He said several teams are booked through 2015-2016 and it would be "expensive and problematic" to unwind those schedules.
“I will sell more seats at Yost Arena knowing that we are going to tee it up against our big competitors in the Big Ten,” Brandon said. “We’ll still have a robust nonconference schedule … but at the end of the day, student-athletes that come to Michigan come to win Big Ten championships.”
He might sell a few more seats but it won't be many—Yost already drew capacity last year, and while anyone who's been to Michigan Stadium is familiar with the various tricks used to up attendance figures the additional sales might add up to a couple hundred seats. Also also, don't blame Rodriguez etc etc let's talk about something else.
Officially unofficial. Michigan moving its dominant club lacrosse program to varsity has been the worst kept secret on South Campus for going on a year now, but now the secret is even a little more poorly concealed. A portion of Tim's CCLA recap/MCLA preview:
First, when presenting Michigan Coach John Paul with the conference championship trophy, the announcer said something along the lines of: "probably for the last time ever, Michigan wins the CCLA Trophy." JP played it cool when accepting the trophy, but certainly wasn't in a hurry to deny anything. Following the game, the official @UMichLacrosse twitter account dropped the following:
"Michigan finishes FINAL MCLA regular season with a 103-2 all-time record in CCLA competition."
While it may seem (or ultimately be) inconsequential, it is the first public statement from any official, on-record source that something is definitely going to happen for next season.
Tim's side joint has more.