Sunday, 9 April 2006

Why a self-imposed death penalty for lacrosse makes sense

In my previous post, I speculated that Duke’s men’s lacrosse program will go the way of the dodo, stating the following reasoning:

It is not particularly popular in the region; it doesn’t recruit a very ethnically diverse pool of athletes; and it loses money. Getting rid of the program would also help Duke improve its Title IX situation and save the headache of searching for a new coach.

The first three points are self-evident; I need not belabor them. The Title IX issue is worth some discussion; the NCAA has recently adopted a rule modeled on that of the SEC requiring Division I institutions to have two more womens’ sports than mens’ sports, and while the NCAA has said that cutting mens’ sports is not a desirable approach to achieving this standard, in practice mens’ sports have been cut to help achieve it.

When you combine that fact with the need to find a new coach, and the negative publicity that will dog the team for the coming years—even if the rape charges are proved beyond any shadow of a doubt to be fabrications, the other repellent behavior by team members is embarrassing enough—cutting the university’s losses may simply be the prudent course of action, not as punishment but just to save money and foster better community relations.