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NCAA Report: Lacrosse is Fastest-Growing College Sport

October 30, 2015    15724 Views

By Lane Errington | @Lane_Errington

NCAA Report: Lacrosse is Fastest-Growing College Sport

Marc Piscotty

Lacrosse is the fastest-growing college sport in the nation, according to the annual NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report released Thursday.

Growth across men’s and women’s lacrosse across all NCAA divisions notably outpaced all other sports from 2000-2014. Participation in women’s lacrosse increased by 109% (225 teams to 470), followed by indoor track (59%), ice hockey (58%), outdoor track (52%) and golf (48%). At the Division I women’s level, sport sponsorship is up 49% since 2000, increasing from 71 to 106 teams.


Among men’s sports, total lacrosse participation is up 95% (203 teams to 350) over the same period, followed by volleyball (54%), indoor track (40%), outdoor track (35%) and soccer (32%). Division I sponsorship has grown by 24% from 55 to 68 teams.

In total, 24,159 student-athletes played on 820 men’s and women’s NCAA lacrosse teams in 2014-15. Both men’s and women’s lacrosse support the eighth-largest total of student-athletes across all sports in their respective genders.

Thirty one women’s lacrosse teams (+26 net growth) were added across all divisions in 2014-15, tied with outdoor track and field for most in the NCAA. Men’s lacrosse experienced a net growth of +11 in sport sponsorship this year.

NCAA Women's Lacrosse Participation

Division Teams Athletes Avg. Squad % of Total Members
Division I 106 3,172 29.9 30.7
Division II 94 2,157 22.9 29.1
Division III 270 5,665 21.0 59.9
Total 470 10,994 23.4 42.0

NCAA Men's Lacrosse Participation

Division Teams Athletes Avg. Squad % of Total Members
Division I 68 3,109 45.7 19.7
Division II 59 2,346 39.8 18.3
Division III 223 7,710 34.6 49.4
Total 350 13,165 37.6 31.3

A total of 57 teams have already announced new men’s and women’s lacrosse programs slated to begin in the 2016, 2017 or 2018 seasons. Among notable teams making their debuts in 2016 are the Hampton (Va.) men—the first Division I HBCU to sponsor men’s lacrosse since 1981 and Lacrosse Magazine’s November cover story—as well as Army, VCU, Radford and Central Michigan women’s teams. Cleveland State men and Butler (Ind.) women headline the 2017 additions.


Earlier this month, Arizona State announced its new women's program and a new Pac-12 women’s conference was announced for 2018, bringing the total to three of the Power Five conferences (ACC, Big Ten) sponsoring women’s lacrosse. Lacrosse Magazine recently analyzed the prospects of 25 more Division I men’s and women’s teams that could be next to follow suit, as well as the domino effect of Arizona State adding women’s lacrosse.

For a complete look at the NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report, visit NCAA.org.



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