Vote for new sports coming to UWEC

A vote coming within a few weeks to add new sports to the university


Photo by Gabbie Henn

Men’s baseball, women’s lacrosse and men’s soccer will be considered for the official Blugold roster.

Student athletes gathered into the Schofield Hall auditorium on Sept. 3 to listen to Dan Schumacher — director of athletics — speak at the all-athlete banquet.

During the banquet, Schumacher highlighted the importance of student athletes’ roles in graduation rates and academic statistics across the university.

The university gathers retention rate data and four years and six years graduation data to determine how well the university is performing. These are the numbers for the whole university, according to Schumacher’s presentation. The data is as follows:

  • 83 percent of students come back from year to year.
  • 67 percent of students graduate within six years, the only mark recognized by the NCAA.
  • 40 percent of students graduate within four years.

The institution wants the retention and graduation rates to be upwards of 90 percent, Schumacher said. Student athletes are charted in the same categories and these are the results from Schumacher’s presentation:

  • 89 percent of student athletes come back from year to year.
  • 82 percent of student athletes graduate within six years.
  • 45 percent of student athletes graduate within four years.

The main point Schumacher wanted the public to know is that these numbers swing in favor of student athletes, meaning the more student athletes on campus, the higher number of students will come back to the university and will graduate.

The Chancellor’s office, the Enrollment office and the Athletic department have all combined to try and raise these numbers. The decision they came up with is to add new sports to the university. The sports that are being proposed are men’s soccer, men’s baseball and women’s lacrosse.

“This was not a sole decision on my end,” Schumacher said. “This is a collaborative effort between the Chancellor’s office, the Office of Enrollment Management, as well as several others — including myself as the Director to Athletics — to look at different strategies to secure enrollment as we plan for the future of the university.”

The future of every university is in jeopardy, according to Carleton College economist Nathan Grawe. In an article for the Leader-Telegram, Grawe predicted that college enrollment rates will fall 15 percent by 2025. This is where the new sports the university plans on implementing come into play.

“It’s a combination of academic, co-curricular and athletics that will help build an economic package of enrollment that we are projecting will bring 400 new students to the university,” Schumacher said. “Biomedical and athletic training programs are also adding Masters level programs as part of the academic side of things.”

Among those 400 new students, about 100  would also be part of these new teams, according to Schumacher. These new students would have to pay tuition because Division III athletics can not hand out scholarships.

This means the university will gain hundreds of thousands of dollars from this and can put it back into the campus.

“This is a lot bigger than just athletics,” Schumacher said. “We are playing a small role in this, but as you can see in our data, sports are the best place to start. We, as the athletic department, have the highest numbers across the board when it comes to retention rates and graduation rates.”

One of the groups that will be affected is the women’s club lacrosse team. As of now, it is a group of 25 to 30 women who gather twice a week.

According to the NCAA, women’s lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in the United States.

“Lacrosse isn’t a very well-known sport,” Megan Metzler, a third-year rehabilitation science and psychology student, said. “I think that we would get more recognition after becoming a UWEC sport; therefore, we may get more girls who would be interested in joining the team.”

The group doesn’t have a coach, so everything is student run. Metzler, along with two other girls, was elected captain by her peers and was tasked to run practices and deal with finances and travel plans, as well as other tasks.

“Our organization does not have a coach,” Metzler said. “Instead, we have an executive board and captains.  Each person on the executive board has specific roles in order for us to run smoothly and efficiently as a club sport.”

While the baseball team has their own field at Carson Park, the men’s soccer team and women’s lacrosse team wouldn’t have enough time and space to play and practice, not including the already established women’s soccer team.

This is where the construction of the fields behind McPhee comes into play. With a fully functional turf field, the newly founded soccer and lacrosse teams will have enough space to play as well as the combination of fields at Bollinger Fields.

“It all comes full circle,” Schumacher said. “We are always planning for the future.”

The men’s baseball and women’s soccer teams would both start in the spring of 2021. The men’s soccer team would start the following semester in the fall of 2021.

The vote will be determined in the next few weeks.

Schwoerer can be reached at [email protected].