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Top 25 Academic Schools: Do They Offer Lacrosse?

Yesterday, we looked the the Top 25 Divsion 1 College Football schools, and whether or not they offered lacrosse.  And of the current Top 25 teams, only ONE school offered varsity Division 1 lacrosse!  Crazy!  So today we’re taking a look at the Top 25 Academic schools in the country (focusing on National Universities and Liberal Arts Colleges), and seeing what their lacrosse offering is like.

Top 10 National Universities as listed by the 2011 US News College Rankings:

1 (tie) Harvard – Offers competitive Division 1 NCAA Lacrosse.  Harvard competes in the Ivy League, has had a team for ages, and is regularly a very competitive team, often seen in the top 25.

1 (tie) Princeton – Legendary D1 NCAA lacrosse program.  Has won multiple Ivy League and National Championships in the sport and when Bill Tierney was there, the school was known as the home of defensive team innovation.  Princeton is a top academic institutions AND a lacrosse powerhouse.  The Tigers have dropped a bit in recent years, but no one can argue with their history or the program’s huge impact on the sport.

3 Yale– Offers competitive Division 1 NCAA Lacrosse.  Much like Harvard, Yale is another good Ivy League team.  The program is old, strong and produces Top 20 seasons with regularity.

Harvard Yale Lacrosse LXM Dean Gibbons
Who doesn't love a little H-Y?

photo courtesy gocrimson.com

4 Columbia – Middle of the road NCLL team.  Columbia is the only Ivy League University to not offer lacrosse.  The team went 5-3 in the NCLL last year, but was not that competitive and lost a game by forfeit.  Columbia has a women’s team.

5 (tie) California Institute of Technology – I don’t know if Cal Tech even offers lacrosse at any level for the guys.  I’ve heard that they don’t though. Hook it up if you’ve heard otherwise!  There are less than 1000 students at this suburban Cali school, and academics always come first.  Lax probably won’t ever be a priority there.  And it might never even be a reality.

5 (tie) Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Offers NCAA Division III Lacrosse.  Think all the kids at MIT are nerds?  Well then why do they offer more intercollegiate sports than ANY other NCAA school?  Work hard, study hard, play hard.  MIT isn’t great at sports in general, but I find the fact that they offer lax impressive nonetheless!

5 (tie) Stanford – Competitive MCLA team. Finally, a top football school AND a top academic school!!!!  So they’re good at sports AND smart?  These guys need to add men’s lacrosse ASAP.  Come on, you giant trees, get on it!

5 (tie) University of Chicago – Has a club team that plays in the Great Lakes Lacrosse League.  Great school that could definitely draw in the lax players, but I don’t see them making the lacrosse move any time soon.

5 (tie) University of Pennsylvania – Offers Division 1 NCAA Lacrosse.  A good team, but not great.  Much like Harvard and Yale in that they compete some years, and have a good tradition at the school, but they’re no Princeton.

10 Duke – Offers top flight NCAA Division 1 Lacrosse.  Duke is awesome right now.  Great school, great program and lots of recent success.

Top 15 Liberal Arts Universities as listed by the 2011 US News College Rankings:

1 Williams College – Offers NCAA Division 3 lacrosse.  Plays in the top D3 conference, the NESCAC, and has made the NCAAs recently.

2 Amherst College – Offers NCAA Division 3 lacrosse.  Plays in the top D3 conference, the NESCAC, and has made the NCAAs recently.  Looking to be competitive for years.

3 Swarthmore College – Offers NCAA Division 3 lacrosse. Good, but not great program.

4 Pomona College – Pomona students can join the Claremont Cougars club, which allows students from all the Claremont Colleges to play MCLA lax.  A weird set up, but actually pretty darn cool.  Pooling of resources!  Thanks for info, Cam!

5 Middlebury College – NCAA D3 team with a bunch of national championships, all-americans and a panther-load of tradition.  When you think of D3 lax in the early 2000s, you think of Middlebury.  They’ve even produced a couple of MLL players.  Most recently Mike Stone of the Boston Cannons.

6 Bowdoin College – Yet another great NESCAC school with a top 20 lacrosse program.  The Polar Bears have been competitive for decades.

6 Carleton College – MCLA Division 2 team.  Carleton plays as part of the UMLL and if there is one place where I think D3 lacrosse could explode, it would be in this league.  There are just a ton of schools that should, and probably will, offer lacrosse within the next decade.  Within 10 years I’d actually be shocked if the UMLL weren’t a D3 conference with an AQ to the NCAAs.

6 Wellesley College – no team.  Women’s college only.  NEXT!

9 Claremont McKenna College – See Pomona.  If smart kids keep playing lax out west, I could see this changing.  But it will take time to change the culture there and the first step is getting each school a team, right?

10 Haverford College – Top 20 NCAA D3 NCAA lacrosse team.  Very competitive recently and has the potential to rise even further.  Plays in the very competitive (academics and athletics) Centennial Conference.

11 Davidson College – A D1 NCAA school with an MCLA D2 lax team.  Davidson could go D1 for men’s lacrosse some day, but I haven’t heard even the faintest of rumblings about that.  I actually looked at this school as an option, but their overall lack of good lacrosse turned me away.  Granted, that was 13-14 years ago and a lot has changed, but this is the kind of school that may need to add lacrosse to keep attracting top student-athletes to the school.

12 Washington & Lee University – Legendary NCAA D3 Lacrosse program.  W&L used to play with the big boys in D1, has had more great coaches than our national team and the program is even responsible for rule changes like outlawing the armadillo.

12 Wesleyan University – Top 20 NCAA D3 Lacrosse Team.  I went there!  NESCAC, some recent final fours, and the home of the zone.  Used to be a school full of hippies and dirty prep school kids.  Now it’s 25% hipsters and a lot more jocks.   I’ve been growing my hair out in protest.

14 United State Military Academy – Legendary D1 NCAA Lacrosse Program.  Army Lacrosse.  Do I really need to say more?

14 United States Naval Academy – Legendary D1 NCAA Lacrosse Program.  See above.  Legend-ary.

14 Vassar College – Offers NCAA Division 3 lacrosse program.  Improving program, but still a good way off from being competitive year in and year out.

PHEW!  That was a lot to get through.  So thanks for reading it all the way through.

I think it’s really interesting to look at this list and compare it the Top 25 Football School list.  First off, you’ll notice that the schools listed are VERY different.  Most of the school in the football list are very large public and private universities.  And many of them are the largest state university in their respective states, and even regions.  The top academic schools however, are often much smaller, and are also MUCH more likely to offer lacrosse.

Of the top 25 football schools, only Michigan had NCAA D1 lacrosse.  That’s only ONE team.  And 2012 is Michigan’s first year with NCAA lax!  Yet when you look at the Top 25 Academic schools, SEVEN offer D1 lax, and an additional NINE schools offer NCAA D3 lax.  The contrast is really interesting, but to be honest, I’m not sure that it really means anything.  It’s just interesting.

Or is it?  Think this stuff actually means something?  Well let us have it in the comments!  Academics vs Football success; does it actually mean anything?