I read a piece in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the ways private colleges in the area are adding lacrosse to draw students. Something about the article struck me as wrong, or bothersome. The article discussed the way colleges were adding the sport to draw smart, wealthy kids who can pay full tuition. In other words kids who come from good schools who will not require the college to expend money in aid or academic support–kids on whom the college can make a profit.
I know the economics here make sense. A school needs full pay students to survive. However, the idea of adding a program to get these students made me uneasy. Is the only reason for adding lacrosse because it brings in tuition revenue? Do sports played by other students who are not wealthy get ignored because they do not bring in cash? Clearly one has more college options if one has money. That is a fact of life; however the bluntness of this piece stunned me. Perhaps I prefer my classism hidden.
Then there is also the issue of race. According to ESPN, ”In 2009-10, less than 10 percent of the student-athletes playing NCAA lacrosse were black…. That statistic carries over to both men’s and women’s lacrosse in Divisions I, II and III. ” Given that fact, it appears that these colleges are adding programs that are not only targeted at wealthy students but at white wealthy students.
As I said above, I understand the need for schools to do this. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Here are some quotations from the article showing the basic ideas involved:
“”The holy grail in enrollment in tuition-driven institutions are the proverbial full-pay students,” [Michael Victor, President of Lake Erie College] said. “
“The college’s men’s and women’s lacrosse programs have drawn smart students from middle-class families in states from across the country, Victor said.”
“”For us it was a real simple decision,” said Timothy Bryan, assistant to the president at Hiram. “More and more of our students are asking for it. Most (lacrosse players) are very sound academically and come from very good schools. It is a buyer’s market and they are looking for a great education and to continue in a sport they love.”"
“In the last five years, college growth in the Midwest is really big,” [Brian Logue, Director of Communications for US Lacrosse] said. “Because the sport has grown so much at the high school level, more kids are looking to play in college. At private schools it is a big thing to get them to come there. These are kids with good academic backgrounds and from families that are better able to pay for college and not need as much aid.”