ACC Lacrosse and the 6th team
There is little doubt that the ACC is the elite conference in lacrosse, placing a current member in the championship game 12 times since 2000, so an automatic birth into the tournament isn’t a necessity but would be a nice luxury to have. With Maryland departure in 2014 they will need to find a 6th team to go along with Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Syracuse and Notre Dame but who that will be is anyone’s guess. There are several candidates within the ACC of who can fill this role with each bringing different arguments as to why they are the better choice. With lacrosse exploding at the high school level in Florida makes Florida St and Miami logical candidates. Massachusetts is a lacrosse hot bed and Boston College played in the ACC before going to the MCLA. A case could be made for NC State and Clemson as well but perhaps the front runner for the 6th spot is the ACC-to-be Louisville Cardinals with their thriving athletic program. Typically sports fans associate Louisville with basketball and football and not lacrosse, so why Louisville?
Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich has stated that he is considering adding sports upon their move to the ACC with lacrosse and wrestling being the front runners as they are the only ACC sponsored sports not played by U of L. However Title IX maybe a sticking point. U of L currently has 750 student athletes in 23 varsity sports (10 men & 13 women) and U of L already competes in all women sports offered by the ACC, including women lacrosse. One way to satisfy Title IX, if it is an issue, would be to add a women gymnastics team as well. This would also benefit the ACC which currently has 3 teams (Pittsburgh, North Carolina & NC State) since the NCAA requires four teams in order for a conference to hold a championship.
Lacrosse is a growing sport in the state of Kentucky and the Cardinals do have a brief history with the sport. The Cards men lacrosse team began playing at the club level in 2004 as in independent. In 2007 they joined the National Collegiate Lacrosse League and plays in the Midwest South Division with Xavier, Eastern Ky and Marshall. They competed for the conference title in their division in 2008 and in 2009 and played for the conference championship in 2009, losing to UC. This would be a huge jump up in competition for this young program but it is not one that they would cower from, they are looking forward to the challenge.
There are several advantages for Louisville to chose to add lacrosse over wrestling. For one is venue, the Cards women lacrosse team already has a 1000 seat lacrosse stadium already on campus. Also, U of L has recently broken ground on an $18.5 million dollar stadium for the men and women soccer teams. Holding over 5,300 fans this will be the 2nd largest on campus stadium, behind Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium for the football team. This stadium may also be used for lacrosse if needed. Also lacrosse is one of the fastest growing team sports in the US. Since 2003 the lacrosse championship has drawn 30-48 thousand fans, ranking it only behind the men basketball championship and the BCS championship. Wrestling on the other hand has recently been dropped from the Olympics.
The Louisville athletic department is being quiet on the progression of their talks and their isn’t a timetable set for an announcement.