FSU adds women’s lacrosse to sports lineup

The team will begin competing in the 2025-2026 academic year
Women's lacrosse the newest sport for the Seminoles
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 4:57 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2023 at 5:42 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida State University announced Tuesday that it will add a varsity women’s lacrosse scholarship program to the athletics department.

The addition of the sports ends a legal dispute that started this past July between the University’s club team and the athletic department over the school’s Title IX compliance. To avoid a class action sex discrimination lawsuit by members of the club lacrosse team, Florida State agreed to add a varsity women’s lacrosse team, develop a gender equity plan, and bring its intercollegiate athletic program into compliance with Title IX.

Bailey Glasser represented the club lacrosse team.

“This is a great victory for the women at FSU and all who care about Title IX and gender equity in sports,” said Arthur Bryant, lead counsel for the women. “We are proud to represent the courageous women on the club lacrosse team, who decided to stand up and fight. We also commend FSU, which decided to do the right thing. We are grateful to them all.”

“These young women did everything FSU required to get a varsity team added,” said Bailey Glasser partner and co-counsel Lori Bullock. “After FSU wouldn’t even consider their petition, these women refused to take no for an answer. Now, they’ve created an extraordinary legacy: FSU is going to have a varsity women’s lacrosse team for many, many years -- and it’s going to comply with Title IX.”

On July 7, 2023, working closely with Bullock, thirty members of the women’s club lacrosse team formally petitioned to have their team elevated to varsity status. FSU’s Policies & Procedures Manual says, “Once the petition is prepared in full the Director of Athletics will review it and present it to the Athletic Board with his/her recommendation.” According the Bailey Glasser, that did not happen. Instead, one week later, FSU wrote back: “At this time, we are not actively evaluating the addition of any sports programs to our current collection of teams.”

Within a month, on August 2, 2023, Bailey Glasser wrote to FSU President Richard D. McCullough on behalf of the women, bringing these facts to his attention. The letter said we “hope we can resolve this dispute without the need for litigation, but, if not, we will pursue a sex discrimination class action against FSU for violating Title IX.”

Bailey Glasser said it was then that Florida State responded, and Tuesday’s news was released. The team will begin competing in the 2025-2026 academic year, according to a press release from the university. The Division 1 NCAA program will compete in the ACC conference, according to the statement. FSU Vice President and Director of Athletics Michael Alford said the move follows a nationwide trend.

“Lacrosse is the fastest growing college sport nationally and it is evident that our culture and community will enthusiastically embrace it,” Alford wrote in the announcement.

A head coach for the new team has yet to be selected. The Seminoles will begin searching for that role in “the coming weeks,” according to the statement.

Alford emphasized the success of the Seminoles club women’s lacrosse team and said he consulted with former and current players on the decision to create a varsity program.

FSU did not include specifics on accommodations for the team, but said the university is “fully committed to taking appropriate steps to onboard the new women’s varsity lacrosse team with equipment, facilities, resources, scholarships, staffing, and support to successfully begin competition” in time for the 2025-2026 school year.

He said the move is a step toward the university’s goal to provide “elite” competitive opportunities for female athletes. He said other moves in recent years, such as raising the amount of money spent on facilities and staff for women’s sports at FSU, also supports that cause.

“Creating opportunities for women to achieve excellence has always been a bedrock of our values at Florida State,” Alford said in the statement. “This is merely another chapter in a long history. We have been, and continue to be, unwavering in our commitment to that. It’s integral to our university and athletics culture.”

According to the announcement, FSU will also “conduct a gender equity review of its intercollegiate athletics program to develop and adopt a new Gender Equity Plan to strengthen FSU’s support for its championship women’s sports programs,” which is scheduled to complete by July 31.

“As the world of intercollegiate athletics continues to evolve, FSU will maintain flexibility with how to achieve gender equity and Title IX compliance,” the statement said.

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