December 12, 2008

SOUTHWESTERN TO OFFER LACROSSE AS A VARSITY SPORT

Oct. 7, 2008

After offering men's lacrosse for 25 years as a club sport, Southwestern will become the first university in Texas to offer it as a varsity sport. The University plans to field its first team in the fall of 2009 and begin NCAA competition in spring 2010.

"Lacrosse is one of the fastest-growing sports right now at the high school and collegiate levels," said Glada Munt, director of intercollegiate athletics at Southwestern. "This is a natural transition for us and reflects the University's response to a strong demonstrated student interest in the sport."

In recent years, Southwestern's men's lacrosse team has enjoyed tremendous success as a club sport. It has won the Lone Star Alliance Division II championship for the past four years and advanced to the national tournament.

Men's lacrosse will become the 16th varsity sport offered at Southwestern. The University is fielding its first varsity women's softball team in spring 2009.

"We have been looking to grow our athletic program," Munt said. "The average number of varsity teams for schools in our conference is 20." She added that Southwestern is considering elevating women's lacrosse to a varsity sport in three to five years.

Four other teams in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, which Southwestern plays in, currently have varsity men's lacrosse teams - Colorado College, Hendrix College, Sewanee and Birmingham Southern. In addition to competing against those teams, Munt said Southwestern anticipates playing schools in the east such as Denison, Kenyon College, the College of Wooster and Ohio Wesleyan. The team may supplement its varsity schedule by continuing to play club teams in Texas such as Austin College and Trinity University.

Southwestern's home lacrosse matches will be played on the varsity soccer field, pending modifications such as a new combined soccer/lacrosse scoreboard that will allow the Athletic Department to accommodate both sports.

Southwestern will begin a national search for a men's lacrosse coach immediately and hopes to have one in place no later than January 2009. In the meantime, Monty Curtis and Derrick Mueller from the admission office will begin recruiting players for the team.

"Without a doubt this will be a strong recruiting tool," said Curtis, who coached the team from 1986 to 1995. In addition to helping Southwestern attract out-of-state students, Curtis said it should help keep some students in Texas who might otherwise go out of state to play varsity lacrosse.

Munt said she expects the team will grow to 30-35 players within the next two to three years.

Southwestern University is a selective, nationally recognized undergraduate liberal arts college with an enrollment of 1,260 students. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in Texas. For more information on Southwestern, visit www.southwestern.edu.

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