For the first time in school history, the University of Utah will sponsor men’s lacrosse as an NCAA sport starting in 2018-2019, Utah director of athletics Chris Hill announced Friday.
Men’s lacrosse is the university’s first completely new NCAA sport since women’s soccer was added back in 1995. With the addition of men’s lacrosse, Utah will support a total of 20 NCAA sports – eight of those being men’s and 12 women’s.
“A lot of research and effort went into our decision to add men’s lacrosse,” said Hill. “With several great club sports expressing an interest in achieving NCAA status, a working committee was formed to determine the parameters for adding a new sport. Among the factors considered were the potential impact on our other teams, financial self-sustainability, compliance with Title IX and popularity in our community. Men’s lacrosse met those criteria. It is the first endowed program for University of Utah athletics. Nowadays, adding sports at the college level almost always requires an endowment, which resonated with the University-appointed committee.”
No state or university funds will be used to support the program. The money is coming from gift -- $15.6 million – funded by an anonymous lead donor and other benefactors he enlisted.
According to a press release sent out by the university, Brian Holman will remain the team’s head coach in its move to NCAA status. Holman is a former eight-year North Carolina assistant coach, and helped lead UNC to the 2016 NCAA Championship before accepting the head coaching position at the U.
There are currently 70 men’s lacrosse programs in NCAA Division I. Utah becomes the first Pac-12 school with an NCAA men’s lacrosse team and will join Denver and Air Force as the only Division I men’s lacrosse programs west of the Mississippi. The Utah athletics department plans to pursue a conference affiliation for its newest sport.
When it begins competing as an NCAA sport in 2018-19, the Utah men’s lacrosse team will play its games at Ute Soccer Field and will hold practices on the infield of the McCarthey Family Track & Field Complex. The lacrosse season, which typically consists of around 15 contests (approximately half of which are home games), begins in February and runs through May. Season tickets will go on sale in the spring of 2018.
The men’s lacrosse team will continue to compete as a club sport in 2017-18.