UPDATED: Highly-ranked lacrosse squads to proceed with postseason runs to NCAAs
Programs intend to honor Yeardley Love with tourneys slated to begin within next two weeks
At a press conference Wednesday evening, Athletic Director Craig Littlepage reaffirmed the decisions of the No. 1 Virginia men's lacrosse team and No. 4 women's squad to continue their seasons and play in the NCAA Tournaments, after releasing an initial statement regarding the teams Tuesday evening.
The teams' futures have been uncertain recently because of a first degree murder charge made against senior midfielder George Huguely for the death of Yeardley Love, who was a senior defender on the women's team. Huguely scored four goals on the season and played in each of the team's 15 games but never started. Love played in 15 of the women's 18 games, starting in three contests.
Littlepage said he met with both teams Monday to discuss their options regarding the remainder of their seasons.
"It became clear over the course of that day that there was a certain amount of their attention that was on the future," Littlepage said. "And although they didn't speak about it and ask questions about it, certainly that was in the back of their minds. There was some uncertainty about whether this event would mean the suspension of the season or not. As far as conversation between the student-athletes and coaches, it was very clear to me that it was the desire of both the men's and women's lacrosse programs to continue playing."
But before the teams could resume play, Littlepage added that it was imperative the athletes' academic obligations were not hindered, particularly given the start of the final exam period.
"We felt very good about the possibility about both teams playing. We wanted to make sure before announcing anything that we had a clear idea of what accommodations would be made for the student-athletes†- how they would handle their academic requirements. We are starting exams tomorrow, or Friday, and we wanted to make absolutely sure that any sort of resumption of formal activities†- practices, etc.†- was not going to in any way deter the academic requirements."
Perhaps the most important factor, though, was that the teams had the blessing of the Love family, Littlepage said.
"And then the final piece in terms of wanting to make absolutely sure that this was the right thing was the acknowledgment on the part of the Love family that they would be as well firmly behind a decision for the team to play," he said.
Littlepage was convinced that Love would have endorsed the decision to move forward and compete for a national championship.
"I had been told by our coach, Julie Myers, that Yeardley would have been PO'd with this kind of attention for anything other than this team continuing with its athletic goals and aspirations."
The men's team, which won the ACC Tournament for the first time since 2006 with a 10-6 defeat of Maryland April 25, concluded the regular season with an 18-9 victory against Robert Morris Saturday. The Cavaliers boast a 14-1 record and are expected to earn the top overall seed in the tournament.
Meanwhile, the No. 4-ranked women's team finished the regular season with a 12-4 record but lost during the semifinals of the ACC Tournament to the Terrapins.\nThe men's and women's tournaments are scheduled to begin May 15 and 16, respectively.
Littlepage said that multiple spring teams have expressed a desire to wear a patch or bear some sort of emblem to honor Love as they continue to play their respective sports. The details of the plan, however, have not been finalized.
Men's coach Dom Starsia, women's coach Julie Myers and players of both teams could not be reached for comment.
-compiled by Andrew Seidman
Editor's note: The Cavalier Daily finished its regular production for the academic year last Friday, and therefore no additional print editions of the paper will appear during the final exam period. The editors will continue to follow the Yeardley Love homicide as the story develops, however, and update The Cavalier Daily's website accordingly.