As part of its strategic initiatives, St. Bonaventure University will add men's lacrosse to its NCAA athletics lineup beginning with the 2018-19 academic year.
"For a number of reasons, the addition of men's lacrosse at St. Bonaventure is extremely beneficial for the institution," Director of Athletics Tim Kenney said. "This is a strategic decision that recognizes an opportunity for our department and for the university. Over the next several years, men's lacrosse will add approximately 45-50 student-athletes to our growing department, which will be an integral part of enrollment at St. Bonaventure."
"Lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States, and it is already one of the most popular sports in Canada. We have a successful club team and significant interest in adding the sport at the varsity level as well. Also, the men's program will complement our women's lacrosse program well and give us another sport that I believe can be very competitive. For all these reasons, we are excited to add men's lacrosse."
Men's lacrosse will become the 17th NCAA Division I varsity sport at St. Bonaventure. The University added men's and women's outdoor track this year, a move that has already brought nearly 20 additional student-athletes to St. Bonaventure.
The sport of men's lacrosse has shown tremendous growth in recent years. Total participation rose 95 percent from 2000-2014 with the number of teams across all NCAA divisions. That continues a trend of great expansion for the sport as whole – 57 teams were announced to begin in men's and women's lacrosse during the 2016, 2017 and 2018 seasons. In all, 71 institutions currently sponsor Division I men's lacrosse.
The university previously sponsored men's lacrosse as an intercollegiate team in NCAA Division III from 1989-93, when the program was moved to its current club level.
St. Bonaventure is actively pursuing a conference affiliation for the sport. The Atlantic 10 Conference does not sponsor men's lacrosse.
A search will begin immediately for a head coach, Kenney added.
St. Bonaventure has sponsored varsity women's lacrosse since 2000. The women's team currently has 27 student-athletes. Like the women, the men's lacrosse team will play its home games at the Tom 80' and Michelle Marra Athletics Fields Complex, which was re-dedicated in September 2014 following a $1 million donation from its namesakes with a brand new artificial turf playing surface. The renovations also included Musco lights, allowing for night games and practices.