On April 4, the University of Dallas announced that it will be canceling both the men and women’s lacrosse programs effective on May 1.
In the press release, Executive Vice President John Plotts said, “The challenges lacrosse has undergone required us to consider what would be in the long-term best interest of our Athletics program overall.”
Lacrosse has certainly undergone challenges, regularly struggling to find enough players to field a team for both the men and women’s programs.
The news came as a shock to both the UD community and the lacrosse teams themselves. In an email, Gabby Dixon, junior English major and team captain of the women’s team, shared: “We had no idea this was coming. The team found out about the news only a couple of hours before the school did.”
The men’s lacrosse season was canceled back in February before the spring season took off. They played two games, the first ending in victory.
In an email, sophomore English major Jake Crumbaugh commented: “I felt the cancellation of the program was inevitable. From our lack of team size to the difficulty of our matchups, it seemed like we always had a difficult time competing.”
Dixon did not share Crumbaugh’s sentiment, saying: “From a financial or logistical perspective, I understand the school’s decision. As a player, teammate, and captain of multiple years, I can’t help but feel that the school does not understand how important this community is.”
The women’s team has already taken steps to forming a club team for next year. Dixon shared, “The school’s decision to cut the lacrosse program will not stop the team from sticking together and playing the sport we love.”
She continued, “I am confident that our community will continue to grow regardless of the team no longer being affiliated with [the] NCAA.”
Dylan Steward, a freshman who left UD before the end of the fall semester, offered a few insights into the struggles of the men’s team to keep players, saying, “When I quit the team in October, I was the second person to quit.”
Steward went on to cite several more players who had intentions to quit the team at the end of the semester and commented, “I think it [players quitting] led to the season being canceled because they could not keep enough players for the team.”
Crumbaugh confirmed that numerous players were injured on the team by the start of the Spring season. “Key players of the program … had injury issues due to the innate physicality of the sport,” he shared “Eventually, we no longer had enough players to fill out the roster.”
Steward cited a larger tension in the sports program at UD, saying, “UD is a great school academically and religiously … but on the athletic side there’s a lot that needs to be fixed.”
He pointed out that many student-athlete freshmen transfer out of UD after their first semester when the athletic program did not meet their expectations.
Dixon echoed Steward’s larger concern, saying: “This team is home for so many of us. Many of my teammates have expressed to me that they did not feel like they belonged at UD before joining the team.”
Uniting the non-athlete and athletic side of UD has long been a struggle for the university, and the tension in the cancellation of the lacrosse program has highlighted much of that struggle.
Being NCAA affiliated gives UD much more resources to offer a sophisticated sports program, but UD seems to lack the ability to integrate this program into campus life effectively, leaving many student-athletes discontent and frustrated.
Across all sports, teams are so important to a large part of the UD community. We need to support them, listen to them and solve this issue.