Virginia Commonwealth University will add women's lacrosse to its athletics lineup beginning with the 2015-16 season.
The VCU Board of Visitors on Thursday approved adding the sport to its intercollegiate athletics program, which currently sponsors 16 intercollegiate sport programs: eight men's teams and eight women's teams.
Over the last four years, the number of student athletes per academic year has consistently been between 265 and 279, and student athlete composition has generally been equal between men and women. However, given that VCU has a greater proportion of women than men in the general undergraduate population, VCU athletics determined that adding a women's lacrosse team was necessary to help ensure the university is in compliance with Title IX.
McLaughlin added that the A-10 has lacrosse, so there will not be a need to play in a different conference. Women's lacrosse will carry a roster of 25-30 student athletes annually.
U.S. Lacrosse reports that lacrosse is the fastest growing sport for girls in high schools across the country, with a 48 percent increase of institutions sponsoring the sport from 2006 to 2011. It also is the fastest growing sport for women at the collegiate level, with a 31.7 percent increase in NCAA institutions sponsoring the sport from 2006 to 2011, according to U.S. Lacrosse.
It is estimated that operating costs for the program will reach about $745,000 when it reaches its potential by its third year.
Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 that pertains to gender equality in educational programs, including athletics. In terms of college athletics, women and men must be provided equitable opportunities to participate in sports. The statute also calls for athletic opportunities for men and women to be in proportion to the overall gender ratio of the student body.
The most recent Division I intercollegiate sport added to the VCU Athletics program was women's soccer in 1995.
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