USC to add D-I lacrosse

Newly inaugurated USC President C.L. Max Nikias made an informal announcement last Thursday to USC news source Annenberg TV News that the university will add a Division I women’s lacrosse team to the athletics department.

Moving up - Junior attacker Jordan LaRue of the women’s lacrosse club team advances the ball up the field against North Carolina. - Photo courtesy of Shari Morningstar

The addition has not been formally announced yet, but it will come in the near future as coaching acquisitions are made, Nikias said.

“Pretty soon we are going to announce that we will introduce a women lacrosse team, Division I, at USC,” Nikias said to ATVN. “That is going to be announced in the next few months. We are in the process of recruiting the coach for the team and then we will make the announcement.”

According to Nikias, the move to add a lacrosse team comes as a result of the rising popularity of the sport, whose following has recently risen despite the long history of the game. He also mentioned that there are plans to add a men’s team in the future as well.

“Lacrosse is becoming very popular,” Nikias said. “It’s more popular in the East Coast, but now it is becoming more and more popular in the West Coast. I wanted to give priority to the women lacrosse and then in the next three to five years I think we are going to be in a position to also introduce a men’s lacrosse team.”

There are currently 91 Division I women’s lacrosse teams in the country, three at Pac-10 schools (the teams compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation in women’s lacrosse) — Stanford, Oregon and Cal. USC will become the fourth.

USC currently has a women’s lacrosse club, which will continue to compete at the club level, said Erini Blakey, a senior captain on the team.

Blakey said she is excited about the opportunity the team will have to compete at a higher level in the future.

“It’s incredibly exciting,” Blakey said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for girls here but also for the sport in general. It’s such an East Coast sport, and to have a school like USC decide to put in a program is very big news. We’re all very excited for it.”

Blakey also noted that the growing demand both nationally and in California was reason enough for a team at USC.

“I think that our club’s success and growth might have caught the attention of the athletic department, but I think it is such a popular sport around the country that it [called for a team],” Blakey said. “The sport has gained a lot of popularity in California in the recent years. We are host to some of the best clubs in the nation.”

But although the new Division I team will draw a lot of talent to USC from the surrounding area, Blakey said she isn’t worried about a potential erosion of membership on the club side stemming from the new team’s creation.

“The girls on our team will have the opportunity to try out for the D-I team, which is a great opportunity for them. But there will also be great athletes who choose not to try out for the varsity team,” Blakey said. “It’s not going to negatively affect the club team; rather, it will promote the sport, which I think is wonderful.”

Once instituted, the team will become the 11th Division I women’s sport at USC.

11 replies
  1. WestCoast Lax
    WestCoast Lax says:

    YES!! We have so many solid high school programs (Foothill High, La Jolla) to feed the machine!! Super excited to see this.

  2. Brian Rothenberg
    Brian Rothenberg says:

    As a former Captain and President of the USC Men’s Lacrosse Team, I am incredibly proud of this day. A lot of people put in a lot of work to build a solid club program which has paved the way for this opportunity. This is truly thrilling! Go Trojans!

  3. Steve SC '82
    Steve SC '82 says:

    As a USC alumni and father of a son who plays Men’s D1 lacrosse for Villanova, I’m thrilled at the announcement that lacrosse is coming to USC. As the floodgates open for growth in this great sport, I’m very happy that the leadership at SC is leading the way on the west coast for expansion of lacrosse at the Division 1 level. This is great news for USC!

  4. hoorahUSC
    hoorahUSC says:

    I’m a lax dad from back east and it has made my day, seeing that USC is leading the way into DI lacrosse on the west coast. I can’t think of a better school to do so – as USC goes, so goes many many other FSB schools.

    Congrats and welcome to the club! Well, actually, welcome out of the club and into the big time!

    Good luck and see you at Hotbeds!

  5. Brian
    Brian says:

    You would be surprised Men’s Soccer … men’s lacrosse is HUGE! DI men’s programs are putting 20-25K in NFL football stadiums for regular season events … REGULAR season … campus events for the big time programs average thousands more than their big time men’s soccer programs. Look at a program like Virginia – men’s soccer wins the 2009 NCAA title, they never had home crowds like the men’s lax team that had capacity crowds. Fire Marshall shutting down the gates type of games … Maryland lacrosse plays in their football stadium as does Syracuse … among others.

    Look at TV – ACC programs like Duke, North Carolina, Maryland and Virginia play 80 percent of their regular season games on one of the ESPN family of networks — totally not the same for DI men’s soccer. Baltimore had nearly 50K per game in Raven Stadium for the 2010 Final Four – which was a light year.

    Lacrosse is big time in the East and is becoming so in the West. An athletic program like USC has the resources and the drive to play with the big boys from the get go if they start a program. A USC lacrosse program does more for the campus then men’s soccer. They would be a pioneer for more men’s programs in the West to build the DI footprint and fit the growing need of high school laxers looking for a place to play after high school.

  6. laxisawesome
    laxisawesome says:

    Personally, I’d rather see a lacrosse team than a soccer team. Lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the country. Almost anyone can play it, you don’t have to be big and crush everyone thus reaching out to a wide variety of students. Also, college lacrosse has the highest graduation rate of any other intercollegiate sport. It’s a good investment for USC.

  7. West Coast Lacrosse Fan
    West Coast Lacrosse Fan says:

    AWESOME!!!! To have any of the local Southern California colleges add a NCAA Division 1 program is outstanding!

  8. Men's soccer
    Men's soccer says:

    Personally, I’d rather see a men’s soccer team than a men’s lacrosse team. Students still won’t go to games for either, though.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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