Part four of our look at life AGDF. After examining how the changing of the guard will affect the hockey, basketball and football programs, it's time to take a look at the rest of Boston College's 28 varsity sports.
The 800-pound gorilla in the room, obviously, is the status of the men's lacrosse program. You'll recall that it was DeFilippo who decided to axe the program in the early 2000s, citing Title IX scholarship limitations, men's and women's hockey and lack of funding as reasons why BC won't be bringing back men's varsity lacrosse.
The landscape has changed dramatically in the time since men's varsity lacrosse lost its varsity status. Boston College's primary athletics conference now sponsors men's lacrosse as an official sport (the Big East only started a conference in 2010). Starting in 2014, the ACC will need one more program to round up to an even number and earn an NCAA Tournament auto-bid (though it's not like the five ACC members need said auto-bid). The sport has enjoyed significant growth in the decade since BC dropped the program, including new programs at Michigan and Boston University. There would be no shortage of local programs available to BC to fill the non-conference portion of the schedule and the school is located in an area of the country where the sport is exploding in popularity.
DeFilippo's tried and true response to the men's lax question was that the school can't have men's lax because BC offers 18 scholarships in men's ice hockey. He wanted you to make the association between the two sports -- "If I have to choose between a men's hockey team that consistently brings home trophies and an ACC men's lacrosse doormat ..." -- where there is none.
There is no Title IX relationship between the two sports. 18 men's scholarships is just a number. Could be in any sport, not just men's ice hockey.
Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and UMass all make the Title IX math work. And if it's about funding, look at any of these programs' financials to get a ballpark estimate at what it costs to operate the program. It costs a comparable school like Notre Dame a hair under $400k a year in operating expenses to run its men's lacrosse program. That figure seems to be on the high end, as Notre Dame is a program with few local non-conference scheduling options. It cost the defending National Champion Loyola Greyhounds half that amount and UMass half of that. Penn State's program cost even less, just $85k, to operate last year.
While far from a trivial amount of cash -- the high end estimates would place men's lacrosse fourth on the most expensive sports to run behind football, basketball and hockey -- there's your ballpark price tag. Throw in a couple extra 100,000 to operate another women's varsity sport and you're all set. Just hope the next A.D. is a skilled fundraiser.
Admittedly, a decision on men's varsity lacrosse will be way down on the list of priorities for the next Athletic Director. Turning things around in football and basketball, fundraising and facilities upgrades for our current varsity sports will be much higher up on said list. I wouldn't expect any movement on this topic, if ever. But certainly something for the next A.D. to consider at some point down the line.
Other than men's lacrosse, the next Athletic Director will be tasked with seeing the school's strategic plan through to completion, notably the construction of the new baseball / softball stadium on Brighton Campus. As part of the move to the ACC, the school promised to upgrade the school's baseball program. To date, the on-field improvements have been margin, though there was an NCAA Tournament berth sprinkled in over the last seven seasons. The single biggest development that can help the school achieve its promise to invest in baseball is finalizing plans for the new Brighton Campus ballpark. Short of that, given the program's other disadvantages relative to the in-conference competition, I don't think you can expect much improvement for the program without the proper facilities in place.
Same goes for other sports like track & field, tennis and swimming & diving which are under-invested in terms of on-campus facilities and resources. The next Athletic Director will have to take a holistic look at Boston College's 31 varsity sports to determine which sports make the most sense to invest in.
Arguably DeFilippo's single biggest achievement with respect to BC's Olympic sports was the rise of the women's sports programs. Women's ice hockey, women's soccer, field hockey and lacrosse have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success over the last few years with women's ice hockey and women's soccer recently making Final Four runs. For soccer, field hockey and lacrosse, this was no easy task in the uber-competitive ACC. Hopefully the next A.D. continues to make smart hires for these programs and provides them with the resources needed to build on each program's recent successes.