Men’s swimming, women’s lacrosse added by school

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown State University campus seemingly is constantly going through renovations, with new structures being built around campus.

This fall, the Penguins will make some changes to their sports lineup, adding men’s swimming and diving to complement the women’s team.

YSU previously had men’s swimming until 1984.

Women’s lacrosse, which is to be played at the Covelli Sports Complex in the spring, is scheduled to start in 2021.

Both teams will have 20 to 25 on their rosters. Cross country plans to increase numbers to 50 in two years. YSU’s student-athlete population should reach close to 500 in the next couple of years.

Penguins Director of Athletics Ron Strollo said YSU wanted to add lacrosse a couple of years ago, but waited. Akron and Kent State have added teams. Central Michigan has it as well. There’s talk of a couple of other Mid-American Conference teams adding the sport in the next couple of years.

“That may be the beginning of a new conference for lacrosse,” Strollo said.

Cleveland State, Milwaukee, Green Bay, IUPUI, Oakland and UIC all have men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams in the Horizon League. YSU was the lone school to not have both teams.

“We were going to the championship and when the women’s events were going on, the men were standing by the pool deck screaming and hollering, cheering on the women’s team,” Strollo said. “Our women don’t have anyone doing that for them.”

Why men’s swimming and diving and not another sport, like men’s soccer, which most of the Horizon League schools sponsor?

“We have to be very careful with Title IX,” Strollo said. “The thing that made swimming, made it stand out easier, was we had just put a $2 million renovation to our pool. We already had the beginnings of a coaching staff. Really, all we’re doing is adding another assistant coach and the same coach will coach both.

“It was less expensive than adding another (sport), whether it was wrestling or men’s soccer. We were the only school in the Horizon League that sponsored women’s swimming, but not men’s swimming. We also believe adding men’s swimming will enhance the experience with women’s swimming. A lot of times, they’re cheering each other on and traveling together.”

YSU already had the facility for swimming. Men’s soccer plays in the fall alongside women’s soccer.

“It’s tough to add a sport that plays on turf because you run out of practice times and stuff like that,” Strollo said. “We didn’t have to worry about that because we didn’t add a sport that plays on turf.”

How about wrestling? The Mahoning Valley has a strong high school wrestling presence, but that’s where Title IX comes into play. The NCAA states women and men have to be given equitable opportunities to participate in sports. Scholarship monies have to be proportional to participation. Equal treatment for men’s and women’s sports is required, which means athletic departments have to do juggling acts to comply with Title IX.

“I think we’ve kicked around wrestling, men’s swimming,” Strollo said. “The challenge is we’ve got to find women’s programs, too, to add. Especially after the addition of these two sports, where are we going to have room for additional lockers, locker rooms, offices and stuff like that? What conference you’re going to play in are a factor in those decisions.”