by Adria Walker
In an email sent out to students and faculty on Wednesday morning, Donnie Brooks, director of athletics, announced the cancellation of the 2017-2018 lacrosse season for both Millsaps’ men’s and women’s teams.
Brooks cites insufficient roster size and coaching turnover as the reasons for the program’s termination, however, last semester, the men’s team had a full roster—of which 10 students were freshmen, four students were sophomores, two were juniors and only one was a senior–and, just over a month ago, on April 21, Millsaps’ athletic department announced the men’s lacrosse team’s coaching staff’s summer appearance schedule.
The NCAA Men’s Lacrosse 2015 and 2016 Rules and Interpretations book says that 10 players are needed to make a lacrosse team. According to Millsaps’ athletic website, because of injuries during the 2017 season, the men’s lacrosse team was forced to cancel five of their 16 games.
Millsaps’ men’s lacrosse team’s 2017 roster was made up of students from states including La., Ga., Ala. and Texas—many of whom chose Millsaps specifically because they would have the opportunity to play lacrosse at a school with a reputation for academic excellence.
Brooks says that the decision was made by the College’s senior leadership and the athletic department. He writes, “We feel that it is best for us to table the programs for now and revisit their status in the future.” During this cancelled season, Brooks says that the long-term future of both programs will be evaluated, though; he does not say when the final decision will be made.
Amy Forbes, associate professor and chair of history, wrote in an email response to Brooks that, as a faculty member and as a parent of a high school lacrosse player, she considers the decision to be bad news. Forbes writes, “I have witnessed their dedication and character, on and off the field. Several came great distances (California, Colorado), attracted by the opportunity to play lacrosse at the college level.”
Forbes continues, writing, “Millsaps Lacrosse has been an important College presence in the community through training camps, tournament hosting, and close work with local high school players… The loss of the Millsaps program would be keenly felt by the growing number of up and coming, recruitable players, especially in the (southeast) where the sport has taken off”.
The cancellation of this season marks the second time in three years that the women’s lacrosse team will be forced to miss a season due to a lack of players. The NCAA Women’s Lacrosse 2016 and 2017 rules require 12 members to constitute a full team. Last year, Millsaps’ women’s lacrosse team had six freshmen, two sophomores, five juniors and two senior students. The women’s lacrosse team played all of their 11 games.
There is no word yet on whether the athletic department will reconsider the decision to cancel this season.