Kyle Ringo
Kyle Ringo

Women's lacrosse is the most likely sport to be added to the Colorado athletic department later this spring based on startup costs, annual costs of funding the program, a growing local recruiting base and the ability to compete regionally and with other Pac-12 Conference opponents.

Athletic director Mike Bohn told the Camera over the weekend the school plans to announce the addition of a women's sport this spring, but he would not say which sport it will be.

Bohn acknowledged Monday that girls lacrosse is the fastest growing sport at the high school level in Colorado and much of the rest of the nation and that it would make sense for many reasons for CU to add women's lacrosse.

"Anytime we have the opportunity to bolster our commitment to women's sports opportunities, it helps our reputation across the country," Bohn said. "With lacrosse's popularity growing nationally and in Colorado, it's an extremely viable option for us to consider."

Starting a women's lacrosse program would involve minimal costs because the program could practice on the football practice fields or the practice bubble which already are in place. There would be no need for new facilities investment, as would be the case for softball, because home games could be played in Folsom Field.

The primary startup costs would be hiring a coaching staff, purchasing uniforms and equipment and funding recruiting and scholarships for recruits. Women's lacrosse teams typically feature approximately 25 players, though not all of those players receive scholarship money.

It's likely CU will hire a coach for its new women's team at some point this year and that coach will begin recruiting immediately. Bohn said CU is targeting the 2013-14 school year for the new women's program to begin competing. He said it could compete as a club sport prior to that.

The program will be the 17th sport sponsored by the athletic department and the 10th women's sport, joining women's basketball, cross country, golf, skiing, soccer, tennis, indoor track, outdoor track and field and volleyball.

Bohn said CU must add a women's sports program instead of a men's program to comply with Title IX requirements that mandate athletic departments provide an equal number of opportunities and funding for men's and women's sports. College football programs having huge budgets and 85 scholarships at the Football Bowl Subdivision level and eat up most of the opportunities for men.

"Our proportionality numbers are not as fundamentally sound as we would prefer," Bohn said. "And a new women's sport will create a balance that is fitting of our proportionality on campus."

Four other Pac-12 Conference schools have women's lacrosse programs. Stanford, California and Oregon compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. USC announced in November 2010 it planned to add women's lacrosse and the Trojans will begin competition in the sport next school year (2012-13).

Several more Pac-12 schools have women's lacrosse teams on the club sport level.

The University of Denver also competes in the MPSF in women's lacrosse. DU has 26 players listed on its current women's lacrosse roster. Seven of them come from Colorado high schools.

The girl's high school lacrosse season also is a spring sport in Colorado and this spring 49 schools are slated to field teams. CU would surely recruit on a national basis in lacrosse, as it does in all its sports, but the in-state prep ranks would form a nice local pool of talent from which to draw.