NCAA Participation Report Highlights Lacrosse’s Growth Over 40 Years

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The NCAA released its year end 2021-22 Participation Report and there’s some interesting information about college lacrosse over the 40-year period. Note that these are NCAA numbers, so they don’t include NAIA, MCLA or WCLA.

Participation PDF

Here’s the key numbers:

Men’s Lacrosse – 1981-2 through 2021-22

1981-2

138 Total College Programs – 50 in D1, 18 in D2 and 70 in D3

4,193 Athletes – 1,658 in D1, 476 in D2 and 2,059 in D3

Team Size – 33.2 in D1, 26.4 in D2 and 29.4 in D3

2021-2

394 Total College Programs – 72 in D1, 75 in D2 and 247 in D3

15,954 Athletes – 3,660 in D1, 3,393 in D2 and 8,901 in D3

Team Size – 50.8 in D1, 45.2 in D2 and 36.0 in D3

Those team sizes are pretty hefty and sort of indicate that the sport has been used to bring more students to a school. It also indicates, as you will see with the growth of the women, that Title IX did hurt D1 growth.

Women’s Lacrosse – 1981-2 through 2021-22

1981-2

105 Total College Programs – 39 in D1, 13 in D2 and 53 in D3

2,648 Athletes – 930 in D1, 358 in D2 and 1,360 in D3

Team Size – 23.8 in D1, 27.5 in D2 and 25.7 in D3

2021-2

522 Total College Programs – 119 in D1, 113 in D2 and 290 in D3

13,294 Total Athletes – 4,082 in D1, 2,906 in D2 and 6,306 in D3

Team Size – 34.3 in D1, 25.7 in D2 and 21.7 in D3

Plenty of more school teams for the women, and a huge percentage growth rate, but team size is significantly smaller.

Which brings an interesting question – Do Men’s and Women’s lacrosse head coaches have different philosophies on optimal team roster size? Or is it Men’s coaches have a different incentive system with the college?

No matter what the reason is, that’s nice numbers of growth, and hopefully just the beginning . . .