As of 2012 there are 61 Division I Men’s Lacrosse teams and 67 Division I Women’s Lacrosse teams. As popularity of the sport increased in the past years, so has the average expense for a team. The expense for a DI lacrosse program is now above $1,000,000 annually. The team expense covers appearance guarantees and options, athletically related student aid, contract services, equipment, fundraising activities, operating expenses, promotional activities, recruiting expenses, salaries and benefits, supplies, travel, and any other expenses attributable to intercollegiate athletic activities.
There is an average of 12 scholarships per women’s team and 13 scholarships per men’s team in the DI lacrosse world. Of course a scholarship can be split amongst multiple players as partial scholarships. The top lacrosse schools in the country could have player and team expenses up to twice as much as the average. Syracuse has the highest with numbers above $2.7 million followed closely behind Ohio State, University of Denver and Duke. The 14 conferences with D1 men’s lacrosse programs had average expenses ranging from $401,037 to $2,028,585. The WAC, Big10, and ACC had the highest averages.
The average Division 1 lacrosse player enters their freshmen year with at least 7 years of lacrosse experience under their belt and having played on both their high school and club team. Between lax gear from middle school to high school plus travel team and club expenses, many families can invest in as much as a college education trying to get their child a scholarship to play lacrosse.
The gear for a men’s player is a stick, padding, helmet, mouth guard and cleats. The gear for a women’s player is stick, goggles, mouth guard and cleats. For high quality men’s gear, a player can be spending close to $800. Now multiply that by every time they grow during their middle school and high school recruitment years and have to get larger sizes of everything. Women’s gear is a little less expensive, but most women’s club team are more expensive because they take on less players. Entry on a club team can be above $2,000 a year before travel expenses. The more tournaments a high school player goes to, the more college recruiters see them and the more money they spend on travel. Traveling with one of the top high school club programs can exceed past $15,000 a year.
With lacrosse becoming more competitive and growing in popularity every year, aspiring college athletes have to start earlier in their lacrosse careers to catch the attention of D1 programs. Colleges can start showing interest in young talent as early as 8th grade, even though to coach is not allowed verbal contact until their junior year of high school. Some kids with high potential for a scholarship will be asked to travel far and wide across the country for coaches to see them, be advised to join a school’s summer lacrosse camps for more face time, and come for official visits to meet the team.
Between the amount that is spent by the family on building a lacrosse player good enough to be recruited and the amount that goes into a school recruiting top players, D1 lacrosse is growing into a multibillion-dollar investment. Especially men’s lacrosse, it is a rough sport with stick and body checking with fewer concussions than football and more fast paced. It is gaining popularity nationwide with more and more west coast school opening division I programs every year. As popularity grows, so does the competitiveness to get recruited d and get scholarships. Unfortunately, this also means that only those that can afford to invest over $12,000 annually during a player’s middle school and high school years may be the only ones that are able to catch the attentions of top lacrosse programs.