Private schools add lacrosse to attract students

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Wabash College is launching a varsity lacrosse program next year and already has players from Chicago, California and Washington. Not bad for a school that doesn’t offer athletic scholarships.

The school in Crawfordsville is part of a growing trend of private schools adding the sport, with DePauw University in Greencastle starting teams last year and University of Indianapolis starting teams in 2016. Since 2004, 21 NCAA Division II and 79 Division III schools have added lacrosse teams, while only eight Division I schools have done so, the Indianapolis Business Journal reports.

Officials say adding lacrosse makes economic sense for small, private schools trying to attract students who can afford tuition ranging from $25,000 to $45,000 annually.

“Financially it’s a great move, because even with scholarships, we’ll generate more tuition than we have expenses from our lacrosse program,” Indianapolis athletic director Sue Willey said.

The University of Indianapolis, a Division II school, offers full scholarships for men’s and women’s basketball team and offers partial scholarships for other sports. With annual tuition running just more than $25,150, recruiting 70 to 80 students to play lacrosse could bring in close to $2 million, depending on how much the school awards in partial scholarships.

At Division III schools, such as Wabash and DePauw, where no athletic scholarships are given, the income could even be greater.

Adding lacrosse also helps attract students from outside the Midwest. DePauw already has attracted recruits from Maryland, Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina and New Jersey, as well as states close to Indiana.

“We think lacrosse is a positive pipeline that will get us into homes of prospective students that we might not otherwise have gotten into,” Wabash athletic director Joe Haklin said.

Wabash alumni already have shown tremendous support for lacrosse and largely have covered the startup costs, Haklin said. He expects the program to become a rallying point going forward.

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