Baltimore-based sporting goods manufacturer STX has signed a three-year agreement to become the supplier of both the men's and women's NCAA Championships events.
Under the agreement, STX will provide balls and nets for the event. It will also supply equipment used in interactive displays around the stadium, and will bring athletes sponsored by the company -- including Baltimore native Kyle Harrison -- to meet with fans and the media.
"It's a complicated agreement, but really one of the goals is the help grow the awareness of the sport and ensure everyone involved has a positive experience," said STX director of marketing Ed Saunders.
Saunders arrived at the company last year after working with hockey equipment supplier Bauer. He'd developed a relationship with the NCAA and hoped to extend it to STX. This agreement, he said, is unique in the sport of lacrosse.
STX grew out of the Wm. T. Burnett & Co. when workers began experimenting with using synthetic materials to make lacrosse sticks in the 1960s. Until then, sticks were handmade and therefore both expensive and inconsistently made. By 1970, when the NCAA first sponsored an NCAA championship, all 18 goals scored in Cornell's 12-6 win over Maryland were scored with STX sticks.
So a return to what Saunders called "the sport's pinnacle" was only natural.
"No one has ever been the official lacrosse equipment supplier of the NCAA before," he said. "Everyone here is very excited."
Saunders said increased interest in the sport of lacrosse -- especially in the South and Midwest -- has helped fuel what will be STX's best year, with growth of 20 percent. Interest in lacrosse is growing at about 5 to 10 percent rate across the country, he said.
Next year's NCAA men's championship will be hosted by Philadelphia, but the event returns to Baltimore in 2014 for a sixth time since 2004. The Division I women's championship will also be in Philly next year, but Division II and III will be hosted by Stevenson in Owings Mills.