Could Lacrosse and Seattle University Get Denver into the West Coast Conference?

Lacrosse fans were treated to a thrilling championship game over Memorial Day Weekend when Virginia defeated Maryland, 17-16. Could the fastest-growing college sport in America be used to drive a move by DU to the West Coast Conference (WCC)? Denver could leverage their national lacrosse reputation as the “Lacrosse Capital of the West” to kickstart D1 men’s college lacrosse while gaining membership in the West Coast Conference. Their ally in a proposal to join the WCC could be Seattle University, a non-football outlier in the football-centric Western Athletic Conference (WAC). The Seattle Redhawks already field men’s and women’s club lacrosse and, like DU, are a private school outlier in their conference. A commitment by Seattle to add D1 lacrosse and a joint appeal by the two schools to WCC Commissioner Gloria Nevarez could be the key to unlock membership for both schools.

A decent revenue-producing men’s basketball program has always been the biggest barrier to Denver’s membership in the WCC.  However, the addition of football to the current WAC conference leaves only a handful of non-football conferences. Lacrosse can fill the football gap at a much smaller price tag. The profile of lacrosse is a perfect fit for the universities in the West Coast Conference. Add the fact that the western states are now a fertile recruiting ground for D1 lacrosse programs from around the country, the time is right.

Sure, DU needs to demonstrate they have tangible plans in place to improve on the basketball court but proving the value of lacrosse to Nevarez may be enough to turn the tide in addition to a full menu of high achieving programs and DU’s status as the #1 Director’s Cup school in the nation. DU could be a pioneer in bringing Division I men’s lacrosse to California. And surely, DU women’s lacrosse would be a compelling asset for these WCC peer schools as well. Invite Nevarez to campus and show her the facilities and the benefits of collegiate lacrosse with 12.6 scholarships with an average of 48 players per side with most full pay student-athletes. The sport is an ideal fit for the WCC’s private University mix which easily aligns with the University of Denver.

Denver basketball will never be Gonzaga but a potential Gonzaga lacrosse will never be Denver. By going hand-in-hand with Seattle University with a commitment to grow D1 lacrosse in the west, the WCC could become an instant power in the fastest growing sport in America while adding the key metropolitan cities of Seattle and Denver.

A bold move such as this would surely be supported by legendary DU head coach Bill Tierney, a proponent of growing the game of lacrosse across the western US. He could play a central role in the presentation to Nevarez and member schools and this would be a perfect capstone to his remarkable career.

There may never be a better time than now to use the fastest-growing sport in America to propose such a move. And, why not work with Seattle to open the door for membership.

4 thoughts on “Could Lacrosse and Seattle University Get Denver into the West Coast Conference?”

  1. NO WAY would Tierney support giving up the Big East for a western lax conference. The Big East is what keeps DU nationally competitive….

  2. That move would be the demise of DU Lacrosse. Denver lost its foothold on ever having a dominant Basketball program the day Chester Falter pulled the plug on DU Football. DU has a nice selection of Niche sports. However, DU will always be a big player in small pond.

  3. While the WCC might be an upgrade for basketball and other Olympic sports from the Summit League, a WCC lax league would be a HUGE competitive downgrade for lacrosse for both the men’s and women’s lax programs, something akin to DU stepping out of the NCHC in order to compete in the newly-reformulated CCHA or even in Atlantic hockey.

    As much as Tierney would like the expansion of game of lacrosse into new areas, I don’t see him sacrificing his (and DU’s) hard-won admission to the Big East for a less-competitive western league.

    The Pios need to get men’s basketball into a consistent winning, profit-producing program into the top 75-100 in RPI. That’s a heavy lift for DU, but if that happens, DU may have more conference options.

    Personally, the Big East is the all-sports conference I’d like to see DU get into someday…

  4. Puck finally beginning to agree with Dunker on Big East. It would help I someone drops out so they can add us and have an even number of teams with Creighton being our travel partner. Also, Creighton adding lax programs might help. (not happening). You guys don’t agree with me, but having one crap basketball team in power league doesn’t hurt. A pair of gimmies on your schedule breaks up 2 cut-throat games each week. Think Seton Hall it’s first 10 years or so in the BE

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