A whirlwind finish to the week saw two institutions announce plans to discontinue their men’s lacrosse programs. The end of the 2023-2024 school year will be the last season for Lindenwood and St. Rose. The College of St. Rose announced on Thursday that they would be closing at the end of the school year. This brings their time as a DII program to an end. While the announcement was shocking to many, it is part of a growing trend in higher education where colleges and universities have been closing at an alarming rate.
The loss of St. Rose deals a blow to the NE-10 conference. The conference has seen LeMoyne and Merrimack leave in recent years to move up to Division I. The announcement came out of the blue to many. The program recently signed a significant 2024 recruiting class during the November signing period. “It is with a heavy heart that the Board decided to close the college at the end of this academic year,” Board Chair Jeffrey D. Stone said. The Board determined that the College does not have the financial resources to operate for the full 2024-2025 academic year and therefore cannot remain a standalone institution.”
St. Rose to Close
Like many small, private higher-education institutions in the Northeast, the College has struggled to manage operating expenses in the face of declining enrollment caused by both a shrinking pool of high school graduates and the prolonged negative impact of COVID-19, said Stone.
“We are devastated that despite all our efforts we were unable to avoid closure,” Stone said. “Our goal now is to ease the transition for our students, faculty, and staff.”
On Friday Lindenwood University announced that Men’s Lacrosse would be among ten sports no longer be offered after the 2024 season. The announcement sent shockwaves through the lacrosse community as Lindenwood just completed their first season as a Division I program after a highly successful run at the Division II level. The timing is puzzling especially after the administration initially said it had no intention of cutting any sports.
Lindenwood to Drop
“Today, and for the near future, it will be challenging as the decision to better align our athletics department with our peers also results in many of our student-athletes learning that they will no longer be able to compete in the sport they love while at Lindenwood,” said Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Jason Coomer. “As an Athletics Director, this is not a decision you ever want to have to make. Unfortunately, it is critical for the long-term sustainability of the department. I understand there will be considerable hurt felt by the ten teams impacted as well as by our staff and coaches.”
While many are searching for answers, the ones this effect most are the current players, coaches, and alumni. Many feel this was a decision made to prioritize other sports such as football, basketball, and Ice Hockey. From an all sports standpoint Lindenwood is in the OVC. With the lacrosse program being in the ASUN may have something to do with the decision.
On paper this decision doesn’t make a lot of sense. Lacrosse often has a larger roster that brings in more tuition dollars as opposed to how much it gives out from a scholarship standpoint. Lindenwood as an institution is tuition dependent so to see them cut ten sports is very puzzling. If the plan was to do this the entire time, why even transition to Division I?
Lindenwood has been a staple in the greater St. Louis lacrosse community for years. This announcement is a huge blow to the game in so many ways. One must think that their success helped schools like Rockhurst and Maryville decide to add lacrosse.
With the Transfer Portal opening up December 1st and the IMLCA convention in a week, it will be a mad dash for athletes from both schools to try and find homes mid-year if they choose to leave at break.