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Whittier men's lacrosse.

Whittier College to Sunset Men's Lacrosse Program

November 16, 2022
Kenny DeJohn
Jin Peavey

Whittier College, one of the first NCAA men’s lacrosse teams to make its mark in the west, is sunsetting it’s lacrosse program, the school announced Tuesday after a three-year review process involving college leadership and its board of trustees.

The women’s lacrosse team will remain.

Tuesday’s announcement was primarily focused on the shutdown of the Poets’ football team, a 100-plus-year-old program that was not sustaining itself cost-wise. Whittier will also cease its men’s and women’s golf teams. Teams will be allowed to finish their seasons.

With the closure of the men’s lacrosse team, there is no longer an NCAA men’s team in the state of California.

Established in 1980, the Poets’ men’s lacrosse team was a member of the Western Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL) and captured 10 championships from 1980-99. Whittier left the WCLL in 2000 to focus on chasing NCAA tournament berths. The Poets reached the final four in 2003, the second round in 2002 and the first round in 2004 and 2016. The 2003 team was inducted into the Whittier Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

Last season, Whittier finished 8-5 and was led by a pair of 30-plus-goal scorers in Ronan Dooney and Cameron Bentley.

Citing the fact that men’s lacrosse is “disproportionately more expensive to sustain than other sports,” Whittier also said that the decisions to cut football and men’s lacrosse were related to contact injury concerns.

“In addition, there is growing concern around contact sports — lacrosse and football — and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease found in athletes and others with a history of repetitive brain trauma,” the statement read. “When it comes to the health of our student-athletes, we must take this concern seriously.”

Whittier said its decision to cut these teams is final, though any philanthropic interest could help these teams resurrect themselves as club programs.