Drexel Hosts NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Championships

It was a picture-perfect weekend at Lincoln Financial Field, where the Drexel Athletics Department hosted the 2015 NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Final Four.

There were mild temperatures and not a cloud in the sky as more than 70,000 spectators skipped the New Jersey shore and instead headed down to South Philly to experience firsthand men’s college lacrosse’s biggest stage. Powerhouses Notre Dame, Johns Hopkins and Maryland came together with upstart Denver to compete for a Division I NCAA national championship.

While players were working hard on the field, the Drexel Athletics Department was working hard off it.

More than 25 professional staff members and 15 sport management students were involved in staging this championship. Drexel personnel helped with everything from sports medicine support, game operations and ticketing to in-game promotions, the first ever men’s and women’s combined lacrosse championship banquet, lacrosse fan fest, press box operations and media relations, as well as many other facets of hosting such a large-scale event.

The Drexel Athletic Department team on field at the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Final Four, hosted by Drexel. Courtesy of the Drexel Athletic Department.

Drexel ROTC presented the nation’s colors and the ball boys on the field sported Drexel lacrosse shirts. On the sidelines were President John Fry, Drexel board members Rob Powelson and Domenic DiPiero, and College of Arts & Sciences Dean Donna Murasko.

“Hosting a NCAA championship of this magnitude and partnering with the city of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Eagles and the NCAA is an incredible opportunity for Drexel Athletics to bring visibility to our University and elevate the stature of our lacrosse programs,” said Eric Zillmer, PsyD, director of Drexel Athletics. “In addition, this championship provided an incredible opportunity for professional development for our staff, and our sports management students were truly immersed in a real, live incubator that was televised to a national ESPN audience. I am so proud of our department and our Drexel students who helped coordinate and bring to fruition a truly world-class sporting event.”

An on-field Drexel Dragons logo can be seen during a Final Four game between Notre Dame and Denver, the eventual national champions. Courtesy of the Drexel Athletic Department.

This was the second time in three years that Drexel has played host for the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Final Four. In 2013, Drexel hosted at Lincoln Financial Field as well.

“Our Drexel team was all-in in terms of helping organize this national championship and did a fantastic job in staging the event,” said Deputy Athletic Director Nick Gannon. “To serve as hosts of such a premier college sports event with Drexel’s signature all over it not only provides a showcase for the next generation of lacrosse players and parents in attendance, but brings pride to our department and campus.”

Drexel lacrosse’s season was already completed after having a very fine year finishing second in the tough Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) standings. In 2014, Drexel advanced all the way to the Elite Eight before losing to this year’s national champion, Denver.

Fittingly, it was announced this week that Drexel men's lacrosse head coach Brian Voelker will be inducted into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame in October.

Next year’s championships will return to “the Linc.” And the Drexel Athletics Department will once again pass on a Memorial Day weekend at the shore to serve as hosts.