There are currently 91 teams playing women's lacrosse at the Division I level in 2011-12. There are 11 conferences within Division I women's lacrosse. The Buffs will play in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation, which currently consists of California, Denver, Fresno State, Oregon, San Diego State, St. Mary's (Calif.), Stanford and UC Davis.
The Buffs will be the fifth Pac-12 school to sponsor women's lacrosse as a varsity sport. Along with California, Oregon and Stanford, Southern California also recently added women's lacrosse and will begin competition in the 2012-13 athletic season. CU will follow suit in 2013-14.
According to a U.S. Lacrosse participation survey in 2010, men's and women's lacrosse were the fastest growing sports at the NCAA level over the past five years. In 2010, a total of 32,431 players competed on club and varsity teams, up 2.6 percent from 2009. The number of men's programs had increased 22.4 percent during that span, with the number of women's programs rising 30.3 percent.
Colorado is a growing lacrosse hotbed. "(CU) women's lacrosse has the inside edge when the sport is added. Colorado high schools are a hotbed for college women's lacrosse programs." -LaxBuzz.com
According to the Colorado High School Athletics Association, 48 schools sponsor girl's lacrosse in the state across six conferences in 2012. Four of the six conferences are in the Denver metro area with 30 of the 48 teams residing in those conferences (Centennial, Continental, Jeffco and Metro). CHSAA first sanctioned lacrosse in 1999.
According to the Denver Post, the Team 180 girl's lacrosse club team produced 18 college recruits from its 2012 class, including 15 to Division I schools and seven to teams currently ranked in the top 20 of the IWLCA poll. Team 180 has put players into 28 different colleges.
Denver supports two professional teams: the Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse (outdoor) and the Colorado Mammoth of the National Lacrosse League (indoor). Inside Lacrosse magazine named Denver the nation's No. 1 lacrosse city in 2009, and attendance figures justify it. The Outlaws averaged 12,331 in 2011 - their sixth consecutive season of leading the MLL in attendance - while the Mammoth's 15,037 average last season was second only to Buffalo (16,605) in the NLL.
According to US Lacrosse, high school lacrosse grew 12.2 percent between 2009 and 2010 with 255,314 players participating nationally. In the past five years, girl's varsity programs have increased 48.4 percent and there are 21 state high school athletic associations that sanction or recognize lacrosse. Youth lacrosse, players 15 and under, grew 9.2 percent from 2009 to 2010.
From B.G. Brooks article on February 1, 2012:
TWELVE QUESTIONS/ANSWERS ABOUT CU LACROSSE
Q: When will competition begin?
A: Spring, 2014.
Q: Where will competition be held?
A: On campus, possibly at Kittredge Field, but the site is to be determined. Folsom Field's current dimensions for football do not meet lacrosse specifications.
Q: Where will the lacrosse facilities, specifically locker rooms, be located?
A: Initially, the team is scheduled to use locker rooms/facilities at the Coors Events Center.
Q: How many scholarships are slotted for lacrosse?
Q: How large a roster will the lacrosse team have?
A: Typically, the roster numbers 25-28.
Q: How many coaches comprise a lacrosse staff?
A: Usually, a head coach and two assistants.
Q: What other in-state schools compete in women's lacrosse?
A: The University of Denver on the Division I level, Regis and the Air Force Academy in Division II.
Q: Does the Pac-12 Conference include women's lacrosse?
A: Yes. But only four schools - Stanford, California, Oregon and Southern California - have programs in place. USC announced in 2010 it would start a women's program and begin competition in 2012-13.
Q: Does the Pac-12 crown a lacrosse champion?
A: No. The three Pac-12 schools that have women's programs up and running for this spring compete in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation with five other schools - DU, the University of California-Davis, Saint Mary's, San Diego State and Fresno State. NCAA rules stipulate that a conference must have six participating teams to have an automatic tournament qualifier.
Q: How big is women's lacrosse in Colorado?
A: Very - and it's growing. CU Athletic Director Mike Bohn cites that trend, as well as the interest generated by organizations such as Team 180 Sports, the state's premier club program, as making CU's move toward lacrosse a natural. In last November's early national signing period for the Class of 2012, 19 members of Team 180 accepted scholarship offers from schools that rank among the heavyweights of college lacrosse. When everything is in place, CU believes it can look in its backyard for many of its top prospects, competing only with DU in Division I for talent that wants to stay in-state.
Q: Is it common for Pac-12 schools to compete in different conferences in such instances?
A: Yes; there are many examples of this. The Pac-12 doesn't sponsor an indoor track championships, and those with programs compete in the MPSF. The ski team competes in the Rocky Mountain Intercollegiate Ski Association (RMISA). So it is quite common.
Q: Will CU immediately compete on the Division I level?
A: Yes; the inaugural game is a little over two years away as the NCAA lacrosse season begins in mid-February and runs through mid-May, with teams allowed 17 days of competition; most schedule 15 or 16 regular season games plus one or two exhibitions.