Pitt athletic director Heather Lyke announced last Thursday that the university will begin to sponsor women’s lacrosse for the 2021-22 school year.
Many wondered why the Panthers chose not to add men’s lacrosse at the same time, citing the expense of building a new facility for one team.
According to Pittsburgh Sports Now sources, Pitt needed to add a women’s team in order to stay in Title IX compliance.
One of the things that Heather Lyke has done since she’s arrived has been adding to the budget and scholarship funding of some of Pitt’s non-revenue sports such as baseball in order to promote what she calls “comprehensive excellence.”
Because of Title IX, the amount of money spent on scholarships for male and female athletes must be equal. In Pitt’s latest Equity in Athletics Data Analysis report, from the 2016-17 school year, Pitt had 275 male athletes compared to 209 female athletes (56.8 percent male) and spent $8.1 million on men’s scholarships and $5.4 million on women’s scholarships (60 percent male).
Any increase in the number of male athletes or scholarships would need to be offset by an additional increase on the women’s side.
So in order for Pitt to add men’s lacrosse, they would have to add yet another women’s sport at the same time. Field hockey would make sense because it is a women’s sport that is sponsored by the ACC with seven other universities competing and is a sport sponsored by WPIAL locally. It also should be able to use the same facility as the lacrosse teams and would be played in the fall instead of the spring.
Unfortunately, the cost of adding two more new teams, including an expensive one in men’s lacrosse, would likely be high. That doesn’t mean it should be ruled out for the future, just that Lyke and her staff haven’t been able to obtain that amount of funding at this point.
Pitt has also been mentioned as a school that could possibly add Division I ice hockey, another sport that comes with a high price tag. According to Pittsburgh Sports Now sources, Lyke and others at Pitt are interested in the idea, but there are no imminent plans.