Hobart to reclassify lacrosse to Division III – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Hobart to reclassify lacrosse to Division III

The Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees voted today to reclassify Hobart lacrosse from Division I to Division III. Citing the changing landscape of collegiate lacrosse and the challenges inherent in recruiting talented student-athletes at the Division I level without athletic scholarships, the Board voted to move to Division III starting with the 2008-2009 academic year. “The Board recognizes that the college lacrosse landscape has changed dramatically in the past decade,” says David Deming ’75, the Chair of the Hobart and William Smith Board of Trustees. “Hobart and Johns Hopkins are the only two primarily Division III institutions competing in Division I men’s lacrosse. But unlike Johns Hopkins, under NCAA regulations, Hobart is not permitted to offer athletic scholarships. Moving to Division III will level the playing field for our coaches in recruitment and our students in competition.” Reclassifying programs are not eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first two years in their new division. Hobart will request a waiver, but 2011 is expected to be the first season in which the Statesmen are eligible for the NCAA Division III lacrosse playoffs. The requirement allows Division I caliber players to graduate from the program and for the program to make compliance adjustments to Division III regulations and policies. “The students and alumni who have competed at the Division I level have represented Hobart with pride,” says President Mark D. Gearan. “The current team has established an impressive record that brings honor to the Colleges. We are committed to supporting our current players given their excellence on the field and in the classroom. The decision to go to Division III was made in consideration of the long term interests of the Colleges.” “The resources required in Division I lacrosse are moving toward what is required in Division I football and basketball,” says Director of Hobart Athletics Mike Hanna ’68, who has led the Statesmen for 27 years. “We are prohibited from offering athletic scholarships in an environment that is increasingly demanding in terms of recruitment and competition. This resource inequity requires a solution that honors our players and fans while also maintaining the integrity of our history. Division III, which is far more competitive today than when we moved to Division I in 1995, offers us better opportunities for the future.” Men’s lacrosse came under the NCAA banner in 1971 and during the 1970s, ’80s and early ’90s, Division III Hobart’s regular season schedule included several games each year against Division I programs. Presented with pending changes in NCAA scheduling regulations, the Colleges began studying the multi-division option in 1993 and opted to move to Division I to preserve the quality of its regular season schedule and scheduling relationships with several longtime rivals such as Cornell, Penn State and Syracuse. The new rules required Division I schools to limit their schedules to other Division I programs. The Statesmen competed as an independent until 2000, when Hobart joined the Patriot League as an associate member. Four years later, the conference changed its membership requirements, which forced Hobart out of the league. In 2005, the Statesmen joined the competitive ECAC Lacrosse League, which includes heavyweights Georgetown, Loyola and UMass. In 92 seasons under U.S. Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association and NCAA Division II and Division III governance, the Statesmen were 624-321-20 (.657) with 63 winning seasons, 21 NCAA Tournament appearances, and 16 national championships (13 NCAA Division III, 2 NCAA Division II, 1 USILA College Division). Between 1980 and 1991, Hobart put together one of the most impressive eras of dominance in all of collegiate sports, winning 12 consecutive NCAA Division III Championships. Since 1995, Hobart is 88-98 (.473), posting three winning seasons. The Statesmen earned four NCAA Division I Tournament bids, twice winning the Patriot League Championship and its accompanying automatic bid and twice earning at-large berths. “As an alumnus, I appreciate all of the opportunities provided to our student body,” says Hobart Lacrosse Head Coach Matt Kerwick ’90. “The continued growth of the campus and the direction of our academic profile is a source of great pride. I am also extremely proud of the Hobart lacrosse history and every student-athlete I have the privilege to coach. My entire focus is on the well being of the 42 young men currently competing for the Statesmen lacrosse program and to prepare them for our final regular season contest against Cornell University.” Hobart will face Cornell on Friday, May 2 at 7 p.m. on McCooey Field at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. “I have followed Hobart lacrosse for more than 30 years and am proud to be a loyal Statesman fan,” says Jeremy Foley ’74, the Director of Athletics at the University of Florida and a former Hobart lacrosse player. “I’m impressed with the thoughtful study that has gone into this move to Division III. I fully support the decision of the Board of Trustees. This is the right move for Hobart.” As part of their visit to campus, the Board also reviewed plans to move forward with a $9 million expansion of athletic facilities including renovations to Elliott Varsity House and rebuilding the Colleges stadium – Boswell Field. These capital projects are part of the Colleges’ Campaign for the Colleges which has so far raised more than $130 million toward a goal of $160 million.

Related Links