Michigan Lacrosse: National Champions!

Submitted by Tim on May 16th, 2010 at 11:33 AM

First things first, for those that were unable to catch them in the liveblog...

MUPPETS?

Muppets.

I don't want to turn this into a cliche "they said Michigan couldn't threepeat, and nobody outside of Ann Arbor wanted them to win"-type column, but it's the truth. Those who participated in Friday's liveblog got to see the groundswell of hate for Michigan. Opposing players and fans (and probably even coaches) resent Michigan's success, and they resent the support Michigan's program gets. What they don't think about is that Michigan Lacrosse earned this success, and earned the support that they receive from donors.

So maybe Michigan didn't face the same type of adversity as most teams at the MCLA Championships, but the pressure to repeat and being on the wrong side of popular rooting interest were obstacles of their own. Regardless of why it happened, only one team could walk away with the honor of being called "Champion." That team is the Michigan Wolverines.

The Game

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Arizona State drew first blood, but just like the semifinal game against Chapman, Svet Tintchev wasn't going to let his team get into too deep a hole. Trevor Yealy and Jamison Goldberg also netted first-quarter goals for the Wolverines to go along with another Tintchev tally, but Arizona State notched four of their own for the 5-4 lead.

The second quarter was the difference. From David Reinhard winning the opening faceoff, Michigan dominated time of possession. They did not allow ASU to successfully clear their end of the field until 6:30 had elapsed in the second. Anthony Hrusovsky and Yealy scored Michigan goals; the Sun Devils only managed three shots. Michigan carried a 6-5 lead and the momentum into the locker room.

Just 16 seconds into the second half, Arizona State's Ryan Westfall assisted his brother Tyler, and the game was knotted up once more. Michigan regained the lead on a Yealy tally a minute later. Thomas Paras pushed it to two goals early in the third. WIth just over five minutes left in the quarter, David Rogers fed Clark McIntyre in front of the goal, and McIntyre scored on a beautiful turn-and-shoot to close out the third quarter. Score: 9-7 Michigan.

Reinhard won the opening faceoff of the fourth quarter, and Yealy rewarded his effort by giving Michigan a three-goal lead less than a minute into the fourth. The teams traded possessions (with Michigan's being much longer) until Arizona State's Eric Nelson again closed the gap to two. On the ensuing faceoff, ASU's Ian Anderson scooped up the ground ball, and after a short possession, Ryan Westfall again fed his brother Tyler, and suddenly, the game wasn't so comfortable for the Wolverines.

Matt Asperheim brought the lead back to two with just under seven minutes to go, as the long-stick midfielder's bouncing shot was partially blocked by ASU goalie Dylan Westfall but dribbled between his legs and over the goal line. Though Arizona State won the ensuing faceoff, they were whistled for an offside infraction. Josh Ein fed Clark McIntyre on a quick restart with the Arizona State defense sleeping.

12-9 Wolverines, but the three-goal lead didn't mean game over. The Sun Devils responded a couple minutes later on the extra-man offense to draw within two. Ryan Westfall scored with just 0:08 remaining on the clock. The ensuing faceoff was probably the most important one ever taken by either Arizona State's Kris Saunders or Michigan's Reinhard (though Rhino's taken quite a few other big ones). Reinhard won the draw, and Harry Freid tried to launch the ball down the field to kill the remainder of the clock. The ball went out of bounds, however, and although the clock showed all zeroes the refs determined that 1.5 seconds should be returned to ASU at midfield. The Sun Devil Hail Mary was wide of the net.

Michigan wins 12-11. National Champs.

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The Future

(Svet Tintchev and Josh Ein pictured at right being all "What up, three in a row" thanks to Mike Brand)

With three consecutive National Championships, and just one game lost in three years (Michigan is 58-1 from 2008-10), the natural question is "where do we go from here?" Michigan, to the ire of every other team, has outgrown the MCLA. The situation has become Michigan v. The Field every year. It's obvious that the Wolverines' coaching, program, and system have set a new standard for club lacrosse, that no one will challenge any time soon.

So does Michigan's Athletic Department finally give this program a chance to compete against the nation's best on the varsity level? There are developments within both Michigan lacrosse and NCAA Division 1  that make it almost a now-or-never proposition for the Wolverines to have a successful transition to the varsity ranks.

First is the fact that Michigan risks stagnating or even regressing if there's nowhere to go but down. If there was competition for the National Championship every year, or if the Wolverines weren't going undefeated (or nearly so) every season, it would be a different story. Michigan's hunger has driven them to success over the past three seasons. Once that hunger is gone, what might happen?

The other development is the growth of Division 1 lacrosse in places other than the East Coast. Ohio State, Penn State, and Notre Dame are all traditional Michigan rivals. All three play varsity lacrosse. Within the past couple years, Michigan's first D-1 varsity program started up at University of Detroit. The University of Denver hired legendary Princeton coach Bill Tierney, and it's only a matter of time before there's championship-level lacrosse being played in the Mountain Time Zone. The window of opportunity is there now.

Do I think it will happen soon? I sure hope so. Those in and around the program are hopeful as well. There won't be immediate national championships. There will probably be more failure than anyone associated with the program is used to experiencing. But that's how growth happens. To show your support for a varsity promotion for Michigan lacrosse, comment here on mgoblog, and visit their website at mgobluelacrosse.com.

Comments

MGoShoe

May 16th, 2010 at 12:27 PM ^

...what future plans the AD has for Men's LAX is a question that needs to be posed directly to Dave Brandon at his next media availability (assuming there's one before the self-imposed sanctions presser on 25  May). 

TigerLax

May 17th, 2010 at 12:17 AM ^

The future is clear to see.  Michigan is renovating an existing field to ensure Michigan has an outdoor lacrosse facility.  Furthermore, they are building a facility with locker rooms, offices, training areas etc...

School's don't put all kinds of money into facility's unless they plan on doing something with it.  Thus, they will be going varsity.  However, when is the best question.  Michigan already gets many good recruits, especially this coming year from top high schools teams such as Georgetown Prep, Boys Latin, Brother Rice, DCC, Gilman, and even some transfer from DI schools.  We have the makings of a DI school.

When they make the jump, I would agree with some on here pertaining to the fact they will face some top schools.  If you watch MCLA lacrosse compared to NCAA you will see a huge difference.  Better passing, faster kids, better shooting (both hands), deeper roster's, and better conditioning.  Ohio State is never really a contender in the NCAA, but ND is usually up there in the top 16 or so.  They have done good so far in the playoffs.

They don't get scholarships in club lacrosse either.  However, most kids from the east coast have money, so they wouldn't need it anyways.  Any other questions, feel free to ask.

TigerLax

May 17th, 2010 at 12:59 PM ^

NO REALLY.  School=Team=Alumni=Private.  Common sense.  I know where it's being built, and exactly what's going on.  So sorry I didn't break it down so you wouldn't act like a child about it.  Maybe you should cover Michigan lax all year other than just covering the last game.

UMman316

May 17th, 2010 at 1:46 PM ^

Tim has been doing an awesome job covering the team all year, look back at old posts and you'll realize he's been very thorough and has great sources.  It's just a very common misconception that the UM lax team receives all sorts of money from the actual school, and that the actual school is funding the new lacrosse facilities.  Private donors that JP has generated are responsible for this building, and Rec sports is responsible for the proposed renovation of Elbel for use as a multi-purpose field, and outdoor home of rec sports.  Any momentum the team has is because of John Paul and the efforts of those around the program.

Also, comments that get personal like your last one are not constructive, and distract readers of this board from the message of the post, which is the success of a great Michigan team.

Tim

May 18th, 2010 at 2:44 PM ^

A privately funded facility doesn't mean anything regarding varsity status. If the school was building it, you might be onto something.

Also, what the fuck are you talking about? I've covered every single Michigan lax game for the past two years.

Hope you didn't enjoy your posting privileges that much...

WichitanWolverine

May 16th, 2010 at 1:14 PM ^

"Within the past couple years, Michigan's first D-1 varsity program started up at University of Detroit."

This is incorrect.  MSU had a varsity program for some time in the '90s.

MichiganMan2011

May 16th, 2010 at 1:40 PM ^

According to Wikipedia, the lacrosse team is Michigan's most successful program with a win percentage above 80% all time. Seems like they've outgrown the MCLA and deserve a shot as a varsity program.

I think I'm going to type out an email to Brandon this very afternoon...

PurpleStuff

May 16th, 2010 at 1:51 PM ^

It looks like the club team has raised the level of funding and infrastructure on their own to a point where a transition to varsity should be a smooth one.  The kind of success these guys have had deserves to be rewarded.  I don't see any reason why the athletic department shouldn't make this happen as soon as possible.

argieshark

May 16th, 2010 at 2:06 PM ^

I played for Michigan Lacrosse in the late 90s.  At that time it was like most other club teams in the country:  lacrosse was a great reason to travel, stay in relatively good shape, have fun doing it, and partying.  We did not hold back.  Coach JP had just taken over the reigns of Michigan Lacrosse.  He knew he had the athletic and lacrosse talent to play far better than we were playing...and we convinced ourselves under his leadership to CHOOSE to take it to another level.  I was fortunate in that I played for BOTH types of Michigan lacrosse...the relaxing and fun true 'club' type team...and the demanding and serious 'club' team they are now.  I doubt my later teams were anywhere as serious and driven as they are now, but they were night and day different from my first few seasons at Michigan lacrosse.  The beautiful thing was that we enjoyed it just as much!  We enjoyed pushing ourselves athletically, we enjoyed every minute of it.  We were driven, we sopped up the "we are michigan men" stuff of Lloyd, Bo Schembechler and Jerry Hanlon.  I wouldn't trade it for the world. 

So when I hear bad blood talk about how everyone hates the wolverines, how we think we're so good, how it's some unfair advantage we have...I just shake my head.  It's a choice.  It's a choice that every single person can make.  Perhaps it's an easier choice for a michigan alum.  we have an uncommon heritage in our school and athletic department that trickles into the veins of every single student.  The type of person that goes to Michigan doesn't settle.  That's why they are at a place like Michigan.  

I don't see what JP , his coaches and players have built as a result of some unfair advantage they have over the whole MCLA...  It's the job of the coach to set up equipment deals for the team, it's the job of the coach to inspire alumni to contribute, it's the job of the coach to share the seasons moments with alumni (if you didn't know it, JP writes a 10 page letter every week to us alumni highlighting every detail of the season...we love it!).  Some club coaches just take things to a different level than others.  But no matter how well organized and driven the coaching staff is, it's ultimately up to players how good they want to be.  They have to choose to put the blood sweat and tears into their practices, and extend them to the games.  Michigan Mens Lacrosse does that better than any non-varsity squad out there.  Frankly Michigan CLUB lacrosse does it better than some D1 varsities.  As their goalie Stone said after the game "we just can't stop winning".  I absolutely love that attitude. 

Whether Michigan Lacrosse gets the opportunity to take their attitude to the next level (varsity) doesn't matter to me.  What matters to me is when they don't have the support, when their actions are driven not by a free education and when they are simply playing for the love of the game, that they choose to excel to this level. 

It's exhilarating to watch them play and to know that I was a very small part of this team years and years ago.   If they do get the privilege of varsity status, I frankly will respect the non-varsity players and alums more, because they choose to try to be great when all they had to do was have fun. 

As Jerry Hanlon would say slowly from a hunched over two point stance in an old tight UM golfshirt:  'BY GOD LETS GO BLUE!"

Dam straight!  Congrats to the 2010 MCLA Champions! 

P.S.  I have to also give a huge shout-out to Chapman and ASU, especially the Sun Devils...the quality of club lacrosse these days is bewildering and exciting.  It is a clear testament to me to how fast the sport has grown in the nation and how dedicated the past players - turned - coaches are to the game.  Cheers to all coaches for helping push this amazing game so far...all coaches, not just the college club coaches.  club lacrosse LIVE on TV?  never thought i'd see it. 

MGoShoe

May 16th, 2010 at 2:48 PM ^

...of game recaps.

laxmagazine.com

Sometimes beauty has to take a back seat to brains.

It did on Saturday night, when Michigan used a cerebral approach – and perhaps a dull brand of lacrosse – to rein in the good looking Arizona State transition game and offense, allowing the Wolverines to squeeze out a 12-11 victory in the MCLA Division I national championship game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.

“We wanted to possess and not give them a lot of transition opportunities,” said Michigan coach John Paul. “We felt comfortable playing six-on-six with them, but we wanted to be really careful on the offensive end so they were not coming right back down our throats.”
 

westsidelax.com

The University of Michigan men’s lacrosse team’s default attack mode is to stall, yet when the team sped up its transition late in the fourth quarter Saturday night, the Wolverines scored what stood up to be the winning goal of their third straight national title.

For most of the game, Michigan possessed the ball and rotated it around the perimeter, as if waiting for a referee to lift his arm to give a stall warning, at which point an attackman might bull-dodge toward the goal. Michigan had more than 85 percent time of possession, and the Wolverines outshot Arizona State, 56-30.

In Michigan’s semifinal Friday, a 12-10 win over No. 4 Chapman, spectators booed the Wolverines’ boring play. But the players didn’t care, Yealy said.

“The strategy was just to eat the clock up,” Yealy said. “We also did it against Chapman, and you could hear the whole stadium booing. But in a close game like that, you’ve got to kill the clock and do what you’ve got to do to hang on.”

phjhu89

May 16th, 2010 at 2:54 PM ^

Many great D1 champions (Princeton, Hopkins) have been accused of playing "boring" lacrosse.  It is honorable company in which to be included!  The haters just don't understand the importance of valuing every possession! 

ely30

May 16th, 2010 at 2:51 PM ^

I'm so proud of this team finishing the season the way they did. The team has so much talent that they can walk over most of the MCLA teams. The reason they can beat the other top teams is the work they put in. The coaches have these guys ready for every possible situation and the time the guys spend at practice and off the field work has led to another championship. The next obvious step would be going varsity and I hope they do. A lot will need to be done, but Michigan already brings in D1 caliber recruits. Going varsity will clearly increase those numbers. One thing is certain: Whether this team goes varsity next season, in 5 years, or in 20, the coaches and players will always approach this game with the drive and effort that all Michigan fans can be proud of. Go Blue!

phjhu89

May 16th, 2010 at 2:57 PM ^

For all of the envy and hated of this Michigan MCLA team, their primary advantage comes not from the resources that they have, but from the approach they take - an approach available to any club willing to take it.  JP runs the program the way a serious D1 program is run, and his players buy in.  They may not have D1 levels of talent, but they have high-end D1 attitudes toward the game, and in the way they carry themselves.  Also, it should be noted that the resources really began to flow after this change in approach!

casmooth

May 16th, 2010 at 3:42 PM ^

Couldn't watch the game last night and was frantically searching for the score when I returned home.  Glad to see another championship.  The jump to D-1 needs to happen.  I'm excited for the proposed lax facilities and hope they are built soon. 

ncampbell

May 16th, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

...argieshark.  and i second what mgoshoe says about asking Dave Brandon at a presser.  I'd like to get an answer about the whole Title IX issue as well, a quick glance at wikipedia leads me to believe that there is no hard and fast rule as to number of sports or scholarships merely that you have to provide an equal opportunity to both genders.  anyway, congrats to the lacrosse team.

Tim

May 16th, 2010 at 5:11 PM ^

A press conference isn't going to be the best venue to get an answer out of him, as they're generally focused toward one particular issue (i.e. Football violations, basketball groundbreaking). I'll see if I can get a comment from him through media relations sometime soon.

I do know, through some second-hand sources, that he's pretty receptive to the idea of varsity lacrosse.

weasel3216

May 16th, 2010 at 4:35 PM ^

The way i see it is that there is no other option for the program; they must take the steps necessary to make the team a varsity program.  The program has reached the pinnacle of the club level and therefore the University must take these steps. 

If the University decides to wait on the program i expect a decline in the team, much like Tim stated.  They have nothing else to achieve, yeah they can continue winning the MCLA year in and year out, but i would imagine Coach JP would want a new challenge in coaching and the team would become bored with winning.  The program needs to take the steps to become DI and force the program to continue to grow and develop. 

Just think of naming the top DI programs in five years, Hopkins, Virginia, Duke, and Michigan.

   

phjhu89

May 16th, 2010 at 4:53 PM ^

OK, I love the sentiment that sees my Jays back where they belong in 5 years (probably no later than 2012, really.)

BUT the enthusiasm for how great an accomplishment the Michigan team has achieved should not blind fans to the reality that high-end success in D1 is significantly more than 5 years away, even if they went D1 tomorrow. 

YES - the program JP has built puts it in postition to make the transition with fewer growing pains than other programs have had.

YES - Michigan is a popular school in several of the lax hotbeds.

NO - that is far from assurance that top 5, or even top 10 results will be the norm in 5 years.  Tradition runs VERY deep in the lax world.

Stay enthusiastic, and give major props to JP for how he runs this program.  Agitate for varsity status.  But don't get unrealistic - fans will need to support this program with the same enthusiasm they have now when the team has far less pretty w-l records after a switch to D1.   

See earlier threads from diaries by Tim for the LONG discussions on this topic.

weasel3216

May 16th, 2010 at 9:40 PM ^

I guess i did not literally mean only five years.  I think you are right that it would take longer than five years, maybe 10 years to really get the program on the map.  Look at Notre Dame and Ohio State, they both have been DI for quite a while and both programs are mid-level DI programs at best.  Both programs will win games they should win and will lose games they should lose.  The talent pool is still in the East and will remain in the East for the next decade or so.    

I think when the sport really starts to move west (more than just Denver) i think teams in the midwest will really start growing, due to the extra talent that will be discovered for the western states (Arizona, Utah, Washington).  I am actually thinking that i heard California is really growing in high school lacrosse and there are a few players coming our East to play.

antidaily

May 16th, 2010 at 7:55 PM ^

no way on taking men's lax varsity. It's not that I'm against it, I just don't see it happening with title ix. unless, they bring women's lax with em. are they any good?

Laveranues

May 16th, 2010 at 8:01 PM ^

Do we offer scholarships or preferred admissions to athletes for non-varsity sports?  And does the NCAA have any authority to regulate non-varsity sports?

phjhu89

May 16th, 2010 at 8:17 PM ^

From the Michigan lax website, JP's note to potential recruits:

"I should point out, however, that as a MCLA program, we are not in a position that enables us to provide scholarship support and we rarely influence admissions to the University. Our student-athletes gain admission to Michigan based on their own academic merits – something we take great pride in."

Regarding the second question, it is an interesting one.  The NCAA does not have any authority over non-NCAA programs, but the MCLA as a whole could be seen as a gigantic dodge around Title IX - there is a women's club league as well, but I wouldn't be surprised to see someone go after the colleges involved in the MCLA at some point, now that it has gotten so huge and so institutionalized.

Tim

May 16th, 2010 at 8:32 PM ^

Universities have no responsibility to ensure that there is a corresponding women's student group for each men's student group (which is, technically, what the M lax team is). If women want a club lacrosse team, they can strat a club lacrosse team (though Michigan actually has one, of course). With no direct support from the University outside of "club varsity" status, which any club sport at the University is able to achieve if there isn't already a varsity team in that sport, there are no Title IX implications at all.

littlebrownjug

May 16th, 2010 at 10:33 PM ^

I think that it will be a hard sell to the AD, because of how tough times are economically right now. Given that we would have to add a women's team to balance this out with title ix, or cut another men's program, it does not seem logical. Having said that, I know that Northwestern made the decision to start a women's team a few years ago, and they are dominant.

Tim

May 17th, 2010 at 9:40 AM ^

I don't think the sell is as tough as you think it is.

Despite the economy, the MIchigan AD ran at a multi-milion dollar surplus last year (and that's without the additional revenue of luxury boxes in Michigan Stadium). There are lots of other factors to take into account, of course, but it's pretty clear that where Bill Martin's mindset was "money money money," David Brandon's seems to be "winning winning winning."

phjhu89

May 17th, 2010 at 11:03 AM ^

Wasn't part of the point of the luxury boxes to provide more revenue so that the activities of the department could be increased?  For example, by adding new sports and have the resources to provide first class facilities for all sports?

Search4Meaning

May 17th, 2010 at 12:55 PM ^

Few of us will ever experience the work and success that goes into an effort of this magnitude - especially for three years in a row.

Simply astounding!

The only question for Brandon is if a men's varsity Lacrosse team is sustainable.  

If you are genuinely interested then you need to contact Brandon and tell him you want this.

I for one have already called and will try to email him - if I can get and email address, since my wife works at U of M that should not be too difficult.

It's up to us to make this happen.

Go Blue

bschool_n_lax

May 17th, 2010 at 9:58 AM ^

As a leading sports program, we need to be a complete program.  That means we should add lacrosse.   Why are we following the lead in becoming "Varsity" to Ohio State and other Big10 Schools?  If we were to become a Varsity program, boosters would grow as many are already contributing to the sport, but  feel the University should also play a role as these kids are wearing a big Maize "M" on their jerseys.   Michigan has improved the branding of the University with its last 3 titles, all while being a self-funded club.  In a time where the Varsity programs are not performing at the elite level, Michigan lacrosse has dominated the MCLA giving us Michigan fans something to be proud of.  The coaching staff and program have earned the right to be bumped up to Varsity.

L'Carpetron Do…

May 17th, 2010 at 10:20 AM ^

I played for Michigan  years ago and I can tell you the California and Colorado kids can play.  There are pockets of good talent out west and they do send a lot of kids east to play. But, a lot of the talent slips through the cracks and ends up at schools like Colorado, CSU, Arizona and Cal. 

I was very impressed with the play of Chapman and ASU.  I think it goes to show that Michigan has raised the level of play not only for themselves but for the rest of the league.  Michigan may have outgrown this league but I think there a handful of teams that are not that far behind them.

I would love to see Michigan start a varsity program.  It won't enjoy immediate success but I don't think it would be very long.  Michigan already has Division 1 talent on campus now and that is without a varsity program, scholarships or too much help from the admissions office.  I would say Michigan would have a recruiting edge on half of the teams that made the NCAA tournament this year, based solely on its non-lacrosse strengths.  Out of these schools where would you rather go to school; Stony Brook, Hofstra, Delaware, Loyola, Mount St. Mary's, Denver or Michigan?  I think one of those would pique a recruit's interest more than the others, but I'm fairly biased so...

I would even argue that NCAA lacrosse needs Michigan just as much as Michigan needs it.  I love catching games on TV but I am SICK of the same teams.  Everytime the Final 4 is made up of Virginia, Duke, Princeton and Hopkins, that is bad for the sport (thankfully this year there will be no Final 4 for Syr, JHU and Prin).  There is far greater parity these days but its still largely the same.  Lacrosse is badly in need of some new blood.

Hopefully Coach Tierney at Denver and AD Brandon at Michigan can shift the balance of power slightly westward. 

But I just hope Michigan keeps rolling and continues to raise the bar for the club game.  Go Blue!  Go for #4 next year! 

phjhu89

May 17th, 2010 at 11:43 AM ^

You are correct, and if you look at the rosters of the top D1 teams, you will find players from out west scattered all over the place.  All of the points you make are why AD Brandon must strike now, while the iron is hot, before schools like Stony Brook, the Mount, etc. develop winning traditions, and become more established, attractive places to play. 

It will be interesting to see how far Army, Stony Brook, and ND go in the tourney this year.  I was VERY impressed by Army's performance yesterday.  Their defensive and shot discipline was exceptional, and I can see them taking down Cornell in the quarters.  At this point, I think they have a real shot at making the finals. 

phjhu89

May 17th, 2010 at 5:12 PM ^

I agree totally re: Army, SB, and Carolina (even though I need to hold my nose about Carolina - still better than Duke).  I am totally conflicted re: MD vs ND.  As a Michigan fan I detest ND, but as a Hopkins grad, I am anti-MD.  I am leaning toward MD, however, as my desire for schadenfreude has been largely satisfied by Cuse's loss. 

joegeo

May 18th, 2010 at 10:12 AM ^

Congrats to the lacrosse team on an incredibly impressive feat.  However, I must say that the arguments for adding them to the varsity roster aren't impressive.  First of all, their dominance at the club level is not an indicator of potential to be dominate at the varsity level.  They are showing that they a group that takes their sport seriously and are dedicated to success, but successfully finding good players from your student body is different than successfully recruiting the best talent to your school to compete.

Varsity or risk stagnation?  Look at other club leagues (eg rugby).  The same teams manage to be the best for decades sometimes.

As far as the makeup and growth of lacrosse... Ohio State is the lone example of a non east coast public school having varsity lacrosse.  Penn State is in the east, where all but 6 varsity teams reside. 4/6 teams were named in the article, as if they were an example of a broader reality. (Detroit Mercy, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Denver, Air Force, and Bellarmine are all 6).   47/60 varsity teams are private schools.  Out of the 13 public institutions with varsity lacrosse teams, only one resides outside of the Midatlantic/Northeast regions... Ohio State.  While Notre Dame and UDM recently gained lacrosse teams, Butler in Indianapolis recently disbanded its team and Hobart College in New York recently dropped to Division III.  The Great Western Lacrosse League just disbanded as well.

I don't think that it is the right atmosphere for Michigan to create a varsity team.  It appears that the club is very well supported by a group of alumni, and there is no reason that will change anytime soon.  Congrats on a great season.

laxalum

May 18th, 2010 at 10:34 AM ^

Hobart did not drop to D3.  They are still D1 in lacrosse. 

The GWLL didn't really disband.  The teams involved shifted to other conferences.  This move was made mostly because the Big East started sponsoring lacrosse as a conference sport, thus moving Notre Dame out of the GWLL and into their natural conference.  This was more a sign of the strength of the sport (that the Big East picked it up) than a weakness (the GWLL going away).  The other GWLL teams joined the ECAC. 

As many are stating, the time is perfect to add lacrosse at Michigan as a varsity sport.  It continues to be the fastest growing sport in the US (and among the fastest growing internationally).  It has exploded across the midwest and west, including Michigan (where there are now more HS lacrosse players than HS hockey players). 

Lacrosse also fits the Michigan image and brand.  Michigan is as much of an east coast private school as any midwest public school could ever be, if that makes any sense at all.  I would suspect that plays heavily into the administration's interest in the sport - as does the potential donors that sport could bring to the athletic department and the university as a whole.  I think this is much less about how successful the club team is, and much more about what lacrosse could do for the university.  If the end result benefits the university, then the sport should be added.  From what I'm hearing Dave Brandon and many of the top administrators of the university understand this and are very serious about the possibility.

Don't compare lacrosse to rugby.  Rugby is a club sport.  Period.  There is no NCAA rugby, so there is nothing else to aspire to.  Lacrosse has a proud and old NCAA tradition, and aside from men's D1 it is one of the fastest growing NCAA sports (I assume men's D1 is held back mostly because of Title IX).  The NCAA final four, which is weekend after next, is the best attended NCAA championship event of any sport aside from men's basketball.

Adding lacrosse at Michigan makes perfect sense.

joegeo

May 18th, 2010 at 11:34 AM ^

You're right on Hobart... here's my excuse: http://www.lax.com/stories/2051

The main arguments are about the popularity of the sport and potential for growth in the midwest.  If it's growing at the high school level as fast as you suggest, well that's a strong argument to consider... without any specifics or statistics, I can't really argue for against.

The fact that east coast conferences like the ECAC and Big East have picked up the sport basically enforces the idea that this sport is only strong in the east (and getting stronger), and that UM will have little company in the midwest.  That UM is similar to schools like UVA and UNC doesn't change the fact that it is located in Michigan, where the interest in lacrosse is minute in comparison to the midatlantic and northeast.  Is the Michigan brand 'east coast private school?' Well if that's the case, then lacrosse does fit the brand. I think it's too early to tell what Brandon will be selling as the UM brand. Even accepting that assumption, the brand is only helped if UM has a good lacrosse team! How can UM compete for east coast talent against top notch east coast schools?  Could UM possibly become an elite lacrosse team? I don't see all the benefits - outside of those to the lacrosse team itself - for the university.

The comparison to rugby was merely in reference to the 'stagnation' argument in the article.  I could compare it to pretty much any other sport, DI, pro, or club and find examples of teams that are able to maintain dominance without upping the level of their opponents (rugby seemed an apt comparison to the Michigan club team because of the club nature of its championship).  And, fyi, as there are varsity rugby teams, NCAA rugby does exist. However, it is true that the NCAA does not host a championship for rugby.