The University of Akron President Matthew J. Wilson and Director of Athletics Larry Williams announced on Tuesday that they intend to recommend plans to restore UA’s baseball team and also to add a women’s lacrosse program to the list of Akron athletic programs, beginning competition in the 2019-2020 academic year.
“Since the baseball program was eliminated from the University, the Northeastern Ohio community have voiced their opinions on the matter to me. The current Indian’s fever and the Akron RubberDucks have created a demand for baseball in the area,” Wilson, said.
The unique plan will be proposed to the UA Board of Trustees at a board meeting on Oct. 11. The proposal aims to be as cost-efficient as possible, with many creative parameters to make the move possible.
“The programs will focus their recruiting efforts here in Ohio in order to remain cost-effective. While they will absolutely welcome out-of-state athletes if they approach the school or the program, the teams will focus their recruitment efforts within the state of Ohio,” Wilson said. This program will provide more Ohio based student-athletes the opportunity to take the field in a Division I program while saving the program money on, traveling costs by only recruiting Ohio players.
By utilizing existing community and university facilities UA will avoid having to construct new amenities. The home games for the baseball team will be hosted at Canal Park, home of the Akron RubberDucks. The women’s lacrosse team home games will be hosted at Infocision Stadium-Summa Field, home of the Akron Zips Football team.
In the proposed plan, any athletic scholarships provided to student-athletes will come from community financial support and fundraisers opposed to University funds. “With sufficient financial support from the surrounding community, the University will more likely to sustain the two programs long-term,” Wilson said.
President Wilson made it a priority to give the community what they wanted by bringing back the baseball program to The University of Akron. As the program was the longest-established UA sport, originating in 1873, baseball was near-and-dear to the hearts of many in the community before the 2016 disbandment.
A Women’s lacrosse team will be new to The University of Akron, but is one of the fastest growing collegiate sports in the nation. There are currently around 400 women’s lacrosse programs competing in the NCAA. Only 24 of those programs are located at Ohio based Universities and currently offer varsity-level NCAA programs. Two other area schools (Kent State and Ashland) have announced plans to add the sport in 2019 as well.
UA predicts that the addition of these two programs will bring approximately 65 new student athletes to the University. A financial analysis of both sports showed the continuing revenue generated from new student-athletes coming to UA combined with the controlled cost model will more than offset the University’s expenditures to field the teams.
As the Akron community now anxiously awaits for the Board’s confirmation of the plan. If approved, you can expect to see the men’s baseball and women’s lacrosse teams take the field during the 2019-2020 academic year.