Taking aim at the ever-accelerating recruiting of young athletes, the Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Association issued a statement Wednesday to its membership indicating that it does not support recruiting events for boys who have yet to enter ninth grade.
"College coaches are great teachers of the game. We should be involved in helping develop both players and coaches," IMLCA president Richie Meade, head coach at Furman and former Navy head coach, said in the statement. "Programs that teach are very valuable in advancing our sport in a healthy way. We all agree recruiting young men when they have not yet entered high school is not the direction in which lacrosse should move.
"The IMLCA does not support the practice of recruting boys this age. They should be learning the game and the proper way in which to compete with honor and integrity."
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In November, Johns Hopkins accepted the first-ever oral commitment from a freshman when attackman Forry Smith of Haverford School in Havertown, Pa., committed to play for the Blue Jays. Several other commitments followed quickly from freshmen who had yet to play a game in their high school careers.
A month earlier, US Lacrosse, the sport's governing body, issued a statement calling for restrictions on the age at which players may be recruited and saying the current recruiting climate is negatively affecting players, coaches and parents.
US Lacrosse specifically targeted the IMLCA and the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association, knowing that the NCAA is extremely unlikely to set any restrictions on the recruiting of youth players. In fact, the NCAA has moved recently to deregulate recruiting in all sports. For example, starting Aug. 1, a ban on text messages from coaches to recruits will be lifted.
Last month, the IMLCA said it would take action on another prominent issue in men's lacrosse -- the "disturbing trend" of declining attendance at Championship Weekend.