Daily Archives: September 13, 2009

Growth Of College Lacrosse: NCAA Division II-III Schools Will Add Lacrosse And Other Sports To Generate Revenue By Adding To Enrollment


"There is a perception out there from Division I that adding sports just consumes all the money," said Adams State athletic director Larry Mortensen. "But at our level it's just the opposite — generating sports adds revenue. It generates enrollment."

"There is a perception out there from Division I that adding sports just consumes all the money," said Adams State athletic director Larry Mortensen. "But at our level it's just the opposite — generating sports adds revenue. It generates enrollment."

Budget cuts in higher education make intuitive sense in a nation still suffering from almost two years of bad economic news.

Yet dozens of schools across the country are making the same decision Pacific did — to add sports rather than reduce them — and have done so for years, The Associated Press learned by reaching out to all 95 of the multisport conferences in the NCAA’s Divisions I, II and III.

Overall, the AP found those colleges plan to add a total of 174 new teams and drop 59 over the next two years.

The reasons aren’t always economic — complying with rules that demand gender equality in sports and that require Division III schools to carry a minimum of 12 sports starting in 2010 also play a role. However, the economy keeps popping up as an important and often critical reason for the expansion, particularly in Divisions II and III, where athletes often don’t receive scholarships.

Adams State in Alamosa, Colo., will add men’s golf, men’s soccer, women’s lacrosse and swimming teams for both sexes. It’s one of 11 Division II schools adding sports for economic reasons, the AP found.

Lake Erie College, east of Cleveland, is bringing on men’s and women’s lacrosse and men’s and women’s tennis this year, its first in Division II.

Georgia’s Columbus State is adding coed rifle, women’s golf, and men’s and women’s track in 2009-10, the largest single-year expansion in the Division II school’s history.

Lake Erie’s student-athlete population is expected to triple, boosting overall enrollment at the 1,200-student college and forcing the school to bolster its curriculum, athletic director Griz Zimmerman said.

For sport-loving students and their parents, the trend means more opportunities and college choices.

Freshman Meredith Howe had never heard of Lake Erie before she was contacted by the women’s lacrosse coach prior to her senior year at Jamesville-Dewitt High School near Syracuse, N.Y. Howe had looked at several colleges and none stuck out. She knew she didn’t want to attend a Division I school.

It turns out Lake Erie was the right fit.

“It was my favorite. It’s tiny but it’s quaint. It was a sweet deal,” Howe said. “I was kind of hoping to pick a school for the sport. I picked Lake Erie because since the program’s new, I would still have a life. Lacrosse wouldn’t be 24-7 for me.”

West Virginia Wesleyan will field a Division II women’s lacrosse team in spring 2011 that athletic director Ken Tyler estimates could generate up to $159,000 in its inaugural year for the 1,200-student college.

“That’s significant for a small private liberal arts school like us,” Tyler said.

Wesleyan plans to bring in 20 new athletes for the first season. Tuition and room and board for one year at the school is about $30,000.

The school says it will wind up in the black even after it divides scholarships worth a total of $150,000 among the athletes. The costs also include the team’s $27,000 budget and the $30,000 coach’s salary.

NCAA records show the number of college athletic teams has been increasing for years, and that while the recession scaled back some schools’ plans, it hasn’t stopped them from expanding.

Starting in 2010, Division III schools with enrollments of 1,000 or more must sponsor a minimum of 12 sports, up from 10 — six each for gender. A tenet of Division III membership is having a variety of athletic participation opportunities and “the legislation was adopted to really emphasize the importance of that philosophy,” said Dan Dutcher, the NCAA’s vice president for Division III.

Although the average Division III school has 16.5 varsity teams, as many as 35 colleges would have to add sports in order to meet the new minimum, Dutcher said. Most of the 35 have submitted plans showing “they’re well on the road to preparing for that increase.”

Pat Coleman, editor and publisher of the D3sports.com network based in Minneapolis, said just five Division III schools have dropped football since 1997, while an AP count found 24 Division III colleges that have either added it in the past decade or plan to soon.

“A school that starts football tends to bring out between 80 and 120 freshman for the first year. You have to look at the bottom line, in Division III, everybody’s paying tuition, they’re getting whatever they’re getting in financial aid, but the school isn’t giving scholarships,” Coleman said. “So that money goes to the bottom line.

“A lot of kids who play that first year don’t play all four years. Usually that graduating class that comes in at 120 ends up at about 20-25. But a lot of the kids stay at the school.”

LaGrange College in Georgia shows how the plan works.

The school decided to introduce football in 2006 to increase male enrollment. Although they were winless in their first two seasons, the Panthers finished 9-2 last season and were among the 32 teams that went to the division playoffs.

Along the way, they’ve brought in about 100 students each year, athletic director Phil Williamson said.

Offensive lineman Aaron Hill was even elected student body president last year. Hill originally intended to attend the U.S. Military Academy before a recruiting visit to LaGrange changed his mind.

“I’m a 5-11 offensive lineman. There’s not a big demand for me at places that give scholarships,” said Hill, a senior. “It was either go to a private school or don’t play at all.

“I wouldn’t have come to this school if not for football. It was exciting to think that we could build a tradition. We came in not knowing anything, crossing our fingers and hoping for the best.”

Back at Pacific, finances are a large part of the picture. Pledges are being sought from alumni, so that the school won’t need to tap its institutional budget for the estimated $1.5 million in startup costs. After that, the school hopes to eventually net about $500,000 a year from football.

The school hopes to attract as many as 90 young men to its student body of just over 3,000 by adding football in 2010.

“For us, it is going to be a way to avoid gloom and doom, to be perfectly honest, because we are a tuition-driven and enrollment-driven institution,” said Ken Schumann, athletic director at the Division III school. “So it’s going to be a big shot in the arm for us.”

When football was dropped, the school was competing in a conference with much bigger schools, which meant losing seasons and low interest. Next year, the Boxers will play against similar-sized colleges in the Northwest Conference.

Not everyone connected to the school is supportive, however. Rebecca Weaver, a 1998 graduate, says she doesn’t believe the sport is a good fit for the school, economically or philosophically.

“I guess the question is, do you want students to pick a college based on whether they have a football program?” she said.

But Jeff Grundon, who was a wide receiver for the Boxers and vividly recalls when the sport was dropped in 1992 — he was an assistant coach — believes that football will enhance the overall university experience.

“I’m excited for the school. I’m excited for the alumni,” said Grundon, who stayed at Pacific and works in the admissions office. “And I’m excited myself — just to go to the games, whenever that takes place, I’ll be right there.”

“It’s funny,” he added, “how things kind of repeat every so often.”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5i_x1qKugnkE8EsKBeSfK0cbRJsdAD9ALTIQO0

ACL Injuries In Girls Lacrosse: High School Girls Lacrosse Players At Risk For ACL Tears As They Enter Puberty And Add Weight And Height But Not Strength To “Control Deceleration”


“Orthopedic surgeons insist that the problem is the ‘Q’ angle at women’s knees,” says Timothy Hewett, PhD, a professor of pediatrics and orthopedic surgery at the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the lead investigator of the girl’s case study. “They think the problem begins because women’s hips are wider” than men’s. Other researchers have looked at the role of female hormones on tendon looseness in the knee. Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Typically, he says, the problem blossoms in puberty. “Prepubescent athletes move alike, boys and girls,” Hewett says. But then, although maturing girls sprout in height, they add comparatively little strength, unlike boys. “Their center of mass moves higher and they add weight, but not the power to control it,” he says. They’ve primed themselves for knee damage. Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

(From the “New York Times) Earlier this year, researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital published the most detailed and revealing case study to date of an anterior cruciate ligament rupture waiting to happen in a young girl. The study grew out of the researchers’ ongoing, large-scale examination of ACL-tear risk factors, which had enrolled hundreds of young, female athletes, measured and monitored them, and assigned some to prevention training programs. The girl in the case report hadn’t received training. She was 11 when she joined the study, a small, skinny, prepubescent basketball player. Each year, the researchers noted her height, weight, joint looseness, muscle strength, and biomechanics, using sophisticated motion-capture technology to study how she leaped and landed. At each session, as might have been expected, she’d lengthened, developing coltish legs and a slight but noticeable tendency to wobble and land knock-kneed when she hopped off of a box.

At age 14, charging down the line during a game, she felt her knee pop and collapse. Her ACL had ripped.

ACL tears, especially in young female athletes, have hardly lacked for notice in recent years, including in this newspaper.

Scientists have argued about the injury’s causes and best treatments. Different exercise programs have aimed at prevention. But despite the attention and training, “the incidence of ACL tears hasn’t been
declining,” says Scott McLean, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan and a member of Michigan’s Bone and Joint Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation Center.

In part, he and many other researchers agree, this is because no scientist yet has pinned down just what causes most ACL injuries. There are theories, including the possibility that women’s knee anatomy is to blame. “Orthopedic surgeons insist that the problem is the ‘Q’ angle at women’s knees,” says Timothy Hewett, PhD, a professor of pediatrics and orthopedic surgery at the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and the lead investigator of the girl’s case study. “They think the problem begins because women’s hips are wider” than men’s. Other researchers have looked at the role of female hormones on tendon looseness in the knee.

But in the past few months, and just in time for the start of fall sports seasons, several new studies have been published that look at ACL tears in novel and provocative ways, focusing not just on the structure of the knee but on the role of the rest of the body. Perhaps the most ambitious was led, like the case report, by Hewett and colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. They solicited videos from surgeons and coaches showing the exact moment when athletes, male and female, suffered an ACL tear. They also gathered videos of female basketball players performing similar movements — foot plants, pivots, and so on — without tearing their ACLs. Using computer software, they marked and triangulated exactly how the athletes were positioned. What they found, according to the results made available online in April in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, was that young women whose ACLs had popped exhibited more trunk sway than the men or the uninjured women; when they landed, or planted a knee to switch directions, their upper bodies wobbled to one side. This placed great pressure on their planted knee, collapsing it inward and overloading the ACL. “Our research suggests that the issue in injured female athletes,” Hewett says, “is a lack of high-level ability to control deceleration and acceleration at the center of their mass in three-dimensional space.”

In other words, they don’t adequately steady their upper bodies as they move. Typically, he says, the problem blossoms in puberty. “Prepubescent athletes move alike, boys and girls,” Hewett says. But then, although maturing girls sprout in height, they add comparatively little strength, unlike boys. “Their center of mass moves higher and they add weight, but not the power to control it,” he says. They’ve primed themselves for knee damage.

Happily, if Hewett’s theory holds, they can train away some of that risk. Specific exercise programs that target strength and balance or proprioceptive deficiencies could “reduce female athletes’ risks until they’re almost comparable” to the risks for male athletes, Hewett says. Parents and coaches can begin with a few, simple, at-home diagnostics to find girls who are most at risk, he says. Set up a foot-high box. Have the athlete stand on it and hop down lightly, then immediately leap straight up as high as she can and land back on the ground. Watch closely or videotape her. Did her knees move toward each
other as she landed the first time? Did they seem to collapse inward as she exploded back up? Did she lean forward or to the side as she landed back on the ground? Those are each probable hallmarks of high
risk, Hewett says.

Hewett hopes to have more support for his theory after he tabulates the results of an ongoing intervention he’s begun among schoolchildren in Kentucky. Some of the participants are being taught how to balance and control their midsections with exercises that concentrate on core muscle stability, one-leg balance training, and so on. Others are participating in a more-standard, ACL-injury-prevention program of strength and speed training. “We think that the group” receiving trunk management
instruction “will have fewer ACL injuries,” he says. The final tallies won’t be available for several years, however.

In the meantime, McLean, at the University of Michigan wonders whether all of the current theories about ACL injuries in girls are reductionist. For a study made available online in May in the journal The Knee, he attached ACL-damaged knees from male and female cadavers to a machine that applied loads similar to those experienced during various athletic movements and found that, “really, no two knees respond alike,” he says. Some ACLs from male cadavers readily tore; some from women held fast under every tension. “I think we need to move away from this tight focus on gender-based and rather generic risk factors,” he says, “and start finding ways to make our recommendations specific to each person.” At his lab, he tests boys and girls, beginning at age ten, on measures of strength, balance, bodily proprioception, and so on. “The ideal situation,” he says, “is for parents to bring young athletes to a lab, run them through the tests, and send them home with a personalized prescription for how to reduce their individual risk.”

Since that’s not practical for most young athletes outside of university towns, he agrees that some basic principles make sense, and are in line with Hewett’s prescriptions. “Teach kids, boys and girls, to land softly,” McLean says. “Teach them to control their trunks and work on body alignment.” And start early. “Don’t wait until high school,” Hewett says. “Begin when kids are 11 or 12.”

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/09/phys-ed-preventing-acl-injuries-in-girls/