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Cheating in Lacrosse?

The allegations of cheating have become a major storyline of the 2023 college football season. Does cheating exist in D1 lacrosse? And if so, how?

Let’s start with a face-off and face facts. Face-off cheating is rampant. Face-offs are within the play of the game and referees are supposed to control that domain.

Turf trolls have always tried to gain an edge in their determined pursuit of possession. FOGO’s have been known to use illegal sticks, grab the ball with their hand, hold, fight, lean into the neutral zone, jump the whistle, basically do anything and everything to secure the ball.

It’s up to the refs and rules to clean this up. Participating with an illegal legal stick is immoral, and flies in the face of the game’s roots – it’s just a matter of time before the player gets caught. It’s a selfish act that puts the team in jeopardy.

Do goalies cheat? No, not in field lacrosse. Box goalies are known to push the parameters of excess padding bloating to Michelin Man proportions. Offensive players push the rules of pocket depth or thumb the ball in traffic. These infractions fall within the realm of game officials.

Like college football, lacrosse rules clearly state that in-game scouting is not permitted – unless there are two games being played from the same site.

11.6 Scouting of Opponents.

11.6.1 Off-Campus, In-Person Scouting Prohibition. Off-campus, in-person scouting of future opponents (in the same season) is prohibited, except as provided in Bylaws and (Adopted: 1/11/94 effective 8/1/94, Revised: 1/14/97 effective 8/1/97, 1/19/13 effective 8/1/13, 1/15/14) Exception — Same Event at the Same Site. An institutional staff member may scout future opponents also participating in the same event at the same site. (Revised: 1/11/94 effective 8/1/94, 10/28/97 effective 8/1/98, 1/19/13 effective 8/1/13, 9/19/13, 2/7/20, 6/30/21 effective 8/1/21) Exception — Conference or NCAA Championships. An institutional staff member may attend a contest in the institution’s conference championship or an NCAA championship contest in which a future opponent participates (e.g., an opponent on the institution’s spring nonchampionship-segment schedule participates in a fall conference or NCAA championship). (Adopted: 1/15/14, Revised: 2/7/20, 6/30/21 effective 8/1/21)

Spying on any practice is illegal. Filming or watching an opponent practice is strictly prohibited. That includes on-campus or neutral site practice or a walk-thru… that’s a major no-no.

Let’s be serious – There are eyes everywhere on campus. This is why teams prefer to walk-thru on Fridays at home and then travel.

“People have been known to watch the visiting team practice,” said a former D1 coach.

“We practiced at (SCHOOL A) one year in the (LEAGUE A) conference tourney. And ended up just cutting it short because they (home team) were blatantly watching us.”

“We Stopped practicing at opponents’ site to eliminate the shenanigans,” said the coach.

Scrimmages in January and early February contain proprietary lineup and schematic information.

“Teams would try to see personnel and steal calls by illegally attending preseason scrimmages,” said the coach.

Sending nonmembers of the coaching staff to scout scrimmages happens too often. It’s illegal. And that’s why coaches switch jersey numbers in scrimmages.

Team Terminology should be proprietary. Often, It’s not. “Opponents will get the calls from the film and that’s why you hold some things back or add twists,” said coach.

Turn up the volume on the film loud to hear the play calls.

“We had an advantage over (TEAM A) because we understood their language. They never changed it.”

Zone defense. Man defense. Slide packages. Ten-man ride. Offensive formations. Extra man plays. Knowing what’s next is critical to success, especially for a defense who’s cracked the code. This isn’t illegal if picked up from film or on gameday in person. It’s using all your senses to better play the game.

Proximity on the same sidelines makes these calls public knowledge. So, it’s imperative that you change your terminology. It can’t be the same every week. Knowing the call for a ten-man ride or specific extra-man play can make the small difference that can swing a game in your favor.

Loose lips sink ships. Every team is reminded that what happens between their walls stays there. Injuries, schematic adjustments and player availability is critical info. But players too often leak information, they tell their HS friends, or parents and word spreads.

“Thats where people find out stuff but usually it’s the dumb ass teammates who tell the guys on the other team. Some team members tell their high school buddies on another team their individual match up,” said coach.

That’s just not smart.

Cheating is rampant with regards to the transfer portal. “People will use high school coaches and club coaches to break the rules,” explained a current D1 assistant.

Indirect contact by a college coach to a high school coach, club coach or family member is a violation of NCAA rules.

A7: Existing recruiting rules prohibit communication and contact with a student-athlete enrolled at another NCAA school prior to the student-athlete appearing in the NCAA Transfer Portal. These rules also prohibit the indirect use of third parties contacting individuals on the student-athlete’s behalf (e.g., family member, scholastic or no scholastic coach, advisor). Certain violations of these rules can constitute a significant breach of conduct as it relates to the NCAA infractions process. A student-athlete’s eligibility can be jeopardized at the school that engaged in impermissible communication. 

“The player isn’t in the transfer portal yet, but college coaches will reach out to Hs/club coaches to express interest,” he says. Or vice versa.

Many times, the athlete was a former recruiting prospect and recruit. They have a prior relationship, and the court ship continues even while the player is wearing different colors.

Unfortunately, subtle indirect contact is standard procedure for those who want to get an edge in the transfer market. It’s illegal.

The recruiting rules say no contact with recruits until September 1 of their junior year. “Coaches will indirectly set up home visits on Sept 1 through club and high school coaches,” he says.

That’s borderline at best.

Alums can alert their former school about a prospect they may have seen, but they can’t be involved in the recruiting process. This rule gets broken, intentionally and unintentionally in most college sports.

Coaches who are friends or cordial colleagues and do not directly battle each other often share scouting reports. They talk and exchange information. This is not illegal.

Unfortunately, advantages that can be gained illegally are far greater than those advantages gained legally. In college sports there is honor amongst thieves. Thankfully, lacrosse cheating is not on par with what’s going on in college football right now.