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Men’s soccer and track & field cut in favor of lacrosse

Published: September 21, 2012, 3:28 pm ET
Andrew Prezioso /The Collegian
The men's soccer team, 2-5 this season under interim head coach Leigh Cowlishaw, was told less than five hours before its game against VMI that they would no longer be a varsity sport next season.
Online Editor

The men’s track and field and men’s soccer teams were officially cut in favor of men’s lacrosse, which moves up to varsity from varsity club level.

The men’s soccer team was told at a meeting at 2:30 p.m. on Friday, said Zac Brown, a junior goalkeeper on Richmond’s soccer team.

“Jim Miller and … our team administrator came in and told us … that the men’s soccer program is not going to exist after this season, and the Board of Trustees decided it [Friday],” Brown said.

Brown said he had been suspicious when his position coach said he hadn’t known what the meeting was about when Brown was doing rehab earlier in the day.

“Anger would be my first thing,” he said about his initial reaction to the announcement, “and disappointment in the school that I committed to and care a lot about. It kind of slapped our team in the face.

“It’s an emotional situation because [for] a lot of guys, this is what we do. This is why we came to school here, and this means a lot to us, but if anything, all it does is bring us closer together because they say you got to play every season like it’s your last, and we’re currently in a spot where we’re actually having to do that.”

The cuts were made as a result of Title IX, which requires an equal amount of money and scholarships allotted to men’s and women’s athletics on college campuses. With the athletics department electing to bring the men’s lacrosse team up to varsity level, the decision had to be made whether to add another women’s sport or cut one or more men’s sports.

The men’s soccer team was allotted eight scholarships, while the men’s track and field team had none. The men’s soccer team members on scholarship were told that their financial aid would remain until their graduation, Brown said.

The announcement came with the men’s soccer team set to face Virginia Military Institute in Robins Stadium at 7 p.m. Friday.

“If you care about men’s soccer, and if you know anyone on the team, go out tonight to the game and get as many people there as possible,” Brown said. “[We want solidarity] to show that people to care about this sport here.”

The track and field schedule for 2012-13 was also just released earlier Friday.

Initial reports of these moves were confirmed by assistant coaches of the men’s track and field program and multiple players on the men’s soccer team.

More information and quotes will be made available as they come.

Contact staff writer David Weissman at david.weissman@richmond.edu

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  • Jeff Crook

    As a former Track and Field athlete at Richmond, this is a very disappointing decision.

  • Mark Sakalosky

    Cutting men’s soccer? Wow. Interesting decision, not sure I mean it in a good way.

  • Martin Boldin

    Truly a shame!! I find it difficult to believe that a major University, as well-funded as The University of Richmond, AND as well endowed, put itself in such an embarrassing situation. The University continues to raise tuitions and support increases for the Endowment Fund so why are the so “broke” that they have to cut TWO major programs?

    • Anon

      Maybe because they prefer to put the money from increased tuition and support towards such things as higher quality professors, better technology for classes or summer research fellowships? That is, stuff that would be useful to ALL students, not only athletes?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dave.harris.33449 Dave Harris

    bunch of bs

  • Jonathan Holljes ’80

    Not sorry about Soccer but out of great respect for my classmate Hilary Tuwei I am sorry to see Track and Field go. Lacross will generate a lot more revenue to the point of covering a good portion of the cost of the program. My other classmate Russ Rainer and I were part of the long since retired Wrestling program. Sorry for those of you who love soccer but seriously if you love to yell GOAAAALLLLLLLLL!!!!!!! you will still get to do that with Lacrosse but about 7 or 8 times more often!

    • Jeff Crook

      please explain how Lacrosse will generate ‘a lot more revenue’.

  • Jeff Kerby

    This makes me sick. I feel utterly betrayed by the school I thought I loved.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ahunn Andy Hunn

    As a ’93 grad who was there during Leigh Cowlishaw’s tenure, and at a time when we knocked off UVA while Bruce Arena was coach, and they were #1 in the country, this is absolutely, utterly ridiculous. What on earth are they thinking.

  • Bex

    So wait….instead of addidng a new sport for women, we cut two men’s sports? This is insane, especially since the mens track team has an excellent history, and has produced some great runners. How about we move the girls volleyball team to Varsity? The club level is certainly talented enough to be a Varsity squad. How about we cut our football team, who hasn’t had a season worth talking about since before I was a freshman. Oh right…because that would be using actual performance to decide who gets cut…

    • Easy Bex

      You’re nuts. The football team had unprecedented success within the past 10 years.

      • Bex

        Too bad track and field has a higher GPA and is, as a whole, more successful.I am not saying we should cut football as an alternative solution. I was just using it as an example of the kind of team the school would never dream of cutting, because it is an intergral part of our “image.”

  • Ray Troy

    Sorry kids, School needed more lax bros.

  • Track & Field

    This is absolutely appalling. The men’s Track & Field team had the Highest NATIONAL GPA two springs ago…amazing students…and they ALL COMPETED WITHOUT SCHOLARSHIPS.

  • Anon

    Look, they didn’t cut these two sports because UR was out of compliance with Title IX. Some influential donors and alums want lacrosse and the only way to do that and stay in compliance is to cut two men’s sports. Ahh, the power of Wall Street money!

  • Track & Field

    Just watched my whole team (both men and women) in tears after this meeting. I don’t think people ‘get’ how much this affects the track & field and soccer teams. This is truly a loss.

  • Track & Field

    *Consider the underclassmen who are debating on whether or not to transfer because of this*

  • Ann

    It is sickening to think that a university that prides themselves on academic achievement would cut a team that had the highest GPA in the nation two springs ago. I am saddened that Men’s Track and Field and Men’s Soccer have been cut in order to add a team that would attract “a certain demographic.” A school that has been working so hard towards greater diversity has just taken two giant steps back from that goal. This affects more than just the current student-athletes but also the current high school students that have already committed to play either Men’s Soccer or run Track and Field. I am disappointed to see politics and money take precedence over hard-work and academics.

  • Woof

    You’d rather take away two teams instead of adding one? Fantastic decision Jim Miller. Enjoy the lax bro’s, bro.

    • Relax…

      As a lacrosse player, I find your comment to be pretty rude.

      • Not Again

        Personally, I could do without the lax bro’s. Leave high school in high school.

        • Really

          You could leave the generalizations about “lax bros” in high school as well.

        • checkyourfacts

          The majority of your so called “lax bros” don’t actually play on the club lacrosse team.

  • Class of 14

    My problem is with Title IX, shouldn’t be there in the first place.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=770886762 Christine Parker

      We shouldn’t offer equal opportunities for both male and female students?

      Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance…”

      Please don’t blame the Board of Trustee’s mistake on a wonderful – but horribly misinterpreted, in this case – piece of legislation.

      • overit

        Frankly, the deciding factor for adding another sports team should be up to demand, regardless of sex. I personally feel that we shouldn’t be slaves to this piece of legislation. Is it truly horrible if men have one more team than women?

      • Class of 14

        Once again, good intentioned government regulation with stupid consequences. Who cares if the men have one or two more sports? RIP common sense.

      • http://twitter.com/dalhectar David Snead

        A reasonable solution would be to expand BOTH Men’s & Women’s athletics, such as adding a woman’s softball team along with men’s lacrosse and the balance between the 2 would remain. The school could use this opportunity to boost athletics across the board. Instead, adding a men’s lacrosse team so off puts the balance between men’s & women’s sport that 2 teams must be cut to make room for lacrosse? Pretty sad.

        Go ahead and add lacrosse, but in the spirit of a law that is supposed to bring in equal opportunity, let’s give both genders a chance to play more sports instead of picking and choosing which sports stay on the roster.

      • Sick of Title IX

        Title IX is a great idea masked by an INCREDIBLY flawed policy. The practical implications of a piece of legislation that treats cheerleaders and dance teams as sports equipment, treats sexual assault on a level playing field as the number of sports scholarships, and leads to cuts like this by simply trying to be fair ends up ultimately undermining the entire point of the law in the first place. The way this policy is being implimented is INCREDIBLY unfair to two of the hardest working teams in UR Athletics. Besides, did the school just overlook the possibility of adding another women’s team to compensate for the added lax bros? It’s not like the money isn’t there, and then you wouldn’t have to cut soccer and track.

        • Sick of Bullshit

          Women’s rowing was slated to be called up with mens lacrosse. But the major donor for lacrosse — who’s son happens to be on his way to UR in the near future, was a major opponent of that idea. Seems fair.

    • Sj

      The solution to title ix is to exempt football

  • John Healy

    It’s a damn shame that adding one sport because it could potentially bring in more money has to come at the expense of two other sports. And unfortunately athletic programs can use money, politics, and Title IX as reasons to cut men’s teams that don’t bring in much or any revenue. Title IX is meant to provide opportunities for women, but that does not mean taking away opportunities for men. Until something is done about this colleges across the country are going to continue to cut men’s sports to either stay in compliance with Title IX, or to add or keep a sport that brings in more money.

    • Kate

      Lax is generally not a money sport. It’s about the idiosyncratic preferences of a few privileged people.

      • Duh

        *cough* queally *cough*

  • Mitch Steel

    Nothing to do with Title IX just another mid-major with pipe-dreams of playing DI FB and actually turning a profit. No going to happen. Watch the FB budget increase by the exact amount it cost to run these two programs. Sad that everything has become about the all mighty dollar with college athletics.

  • Relax…

    I know I’m going against “popular” opinion here, but as a former player on the Richmond lax team, I don’t appreciate the sudden hatred against lacrosse that I’ve been seeing on Facebook, here, and other places. I’m disappointed and sad that two awesome teams got cut, but I’m also excited for all of the opportunities available to lacrosse now that it’s D1. We’ve been working hard to become a legitimate team, and the road from lazy club team to legitimate varsity club has been pretty rocky. I really wish there had been a better way for us to achieve D1 status, but seriously guys, show a little respect to the lacrosse team and us “lax bros” (a term that pisses me off more than saying “frat” instead of fraternity).

  • Lindsay

    Same thing is getting ready to happen at Appalachian State with men’s soccer and wrestling

  • GREATDAY2BEASPIDER

    What does this kid have to be excited about? He was one of those students who learned today that his sport would be cut.

  • Concerned

    Good and logical decision: Remember that youths become adults.
    excerpt from A closer look at some trends in youth sport participation, by Ronald B. Woods
    By percentage:
    Basketball 71%
    Football 65%
    Soccer 51%
    Jogging 49%
    Swimming 48%
    Baseball 48%
    weight training 42%
    Cycling 33%
    Skateboarding 29%
    Ultimate Frisbee 29%
    Lacrosse (didn’t even make the list)

  • Anon

    A school that prides itself on being international gets rid of the two most popular sports in the world? What are they thinking?

  • George O’Leary

    I am a UR alumni (class of 2007) and find this strategy confusing and believe ti was handled rather poorly; it seems to have blind sided the soccer team. Swapping soccer to Lacrosse? Lacrosse is not a major US sport while soccer is truly growing (MLS, US team World Cup growing in prominence). I can’t think of a single lacrosse player…not a single one. Soccer is a global powerhouse sport the resonates with especially well with the international students at the University. I am disappointed in UR and embarrassed to be a graduate of the school. UR will never receive a single donation from me or my wife (former UR field Hockey player 2002-2006, Lesley “Russell” O’Leary). Good luck with lacrosse UR; it is a losing propositio, a sport for the marginal athlete that couldn’t compete on the football field or the ice hockey rink.

    • overit

      Wow, so you’re not donating to the University on the basis of an athletic cut? Seems a rather petty and melodramatic don’t you think? Oh, and while I don’t agree with the ultimate decision, there’s absolutely no reason to make condescending and vitriolic insults to lacrosse players.

    • Tommy

      George..I’m pretty sure that Richmond will be just fine without your donations. You obviously have not checked your facts because college lacrosse is one of the fastest growing NCAA sports and is developing a strong international following (all around the EU/Australia/South Africa to just name a few prominent locations).

      You fail to consider how these sports factor in at Richmond. You state that soccer resonates with international students at Richmond. That is a logical statement, however, having attended multiple soccer games at UR, the attendance at most games can be described as…paltry at best. If international students do love the soccer program as you state, they certainly aren’t turning out in droves to support the beloved Spiders. Lacrosse is only a club sport at Richmond and already has similar attendance numbers (including strong support from the local community, particularly with middle/high school players) in only 2 seasons of real competition.
      As for the poor strategy in terms of informing the team of the decision, people would have had the exact same reaction (if not worse!) if the team had not been told immediately and instead had been informed from friends/family who had heard the news through the grapevine. The decision had been made to cut the programs and it was the proper move to inform the players first in a organized matter.
      Both teams have their merits and it is certainly a difficult decision, but there is no need to describe lacrosse as a “sport for the marginal athlete that couldn’t compete on the football field or the ice hockey rink.” Again a completely uneducated generalization. George, go try to play a full lacrosse game before you say it is for a marginal athlete. Second, most lacrosse players are two-sports athletes, many with hockey as their second sport.

  • itsmybirthday

    to add insult to injury.. um.. the timing ? telling the soccer team hours before a game?in season?the whole thing sucks… but the timing reveals the general lack of wisdom, maturity, and competence of the athletic leadership. Teams are communities, and work like family systems. very important to the members. ending a team is a huge loss for the players. it’s like a death.

  • Grace Gibson

    Once again, a non-publicized and non-revenue generating sport being pushed aside to make way for something more ‘progressive’. The only time track & field gets decent attention is once every four years at the summer olympics. I am so disgusted by this “strategic plan” and embarrassed by our “leaders’” ability to provide clarity regarding this perplexing decision. I am baffled by the unintelligible reasons provided for the choice to remove men’s indoor and outdoor track and field as well as men’s soccer to make way for men’s lacrosse. The AD claimed that this was “the University’s decision.” News flash: WE ARE THE UNIVERSITY. This is the least diplomatic thing I’ve encountered in my life.

  • hmmm

    So the whole point of the university making more money is so “more scholarships can be given and more underprivileged people can learn”? How about attempting to make itself the best place possible for ALL students, from athletes to those who are paying full tuition to attend?

    • Will Offit

      I agree with you. That’s why the school trying to make money is a good thing. It’s bad for the teams who are sacrificed in the process, but it’s good for the rest of the university.

  • Disappointed Spider

    so is the “Fred Hardy Track and Field Facility” going to be changed to the “Mr. Moneybag’s Jogging Arena”?

  • Greg Hoffman

    Why has noone asked what will happen to the current lacrosse team? They are not going to split 8 scholarships among club players, they are more likely going to essentially permanently bench and/or dismiss the guys currently playing for UR Lacrosse

    • Anon

      Exactly. These club lax guys are getting screwed also. Their team is gone now also! If they were Division 1 caliber, then they would be at D1 schools. They’re not though…they are playing club lax at Richmond (who practices 2-3 times a week). They are out also as Athletics recruits D1 lax athletes…

      • checkyourfacts

        Please check your facts before making comments. The club lacrosse team will NOT be gone. There will become 2 separate teams, a D1 team which kids can try out for and the club team will still exist for kids who either do not want to play for the D1 team or do not make the D1 team. Also, most of the club kids were recruited to play at other colleges and were standout players in high school. Just look at the incoming class of players before this announcement was made:
        http://mcla.us/news/2012/09/richmonds-incoming-class-for-2013/

        The club team practices formally 3 times a week in the fall and about 1-2 more times without the coaches. In the spring, the team practices 4-5 times a week with competition every weekend. Please don’t discount the effort that these club guys put into their team.

  • Jim Jones

    I don’t know if the University has to justify its decisions to the common folks, and frankly I don’t care, but here are some interesting questions:
    – Whose decision excactly was this? Who sits on the Board of Trustees? Is there a conflict of interest?
    – Based on what data was the decision taken? Should it become public? Does the data exist?
    – How does this decision fit into the University’s future plans?

  • Track and Feild

    Seriously?! cutting track and feild AND soccer for lacross??? have fun with the lax bros

  • James

    I love how he said it has something to do with academic acheivement. I went to UR and shared a classroom with football players who had a really difficult time reading, not kidding.