Asbury to Add Men's and Women's Lacrosse in 2014-15
WILMORE, Ky. – Asbury University Athletics Director Mark Perdue announced Friday that the school will be adding men’s and women’s lacrosse as intercollegiate teams for the 2014-15 season. The University has begun a national search for coaches and expects to hire those positions by this spring. That timing will allow the coaches an entire year to recruit before bringing in a full roster for the 2014-15 school year.
Asbury becomes just the sixth university in Kentucky to add lacrosse as a varsity sport, joining Bellarmine (men’s only), Centre (men’s and women’s), Louisville (women’s only), Pikeville (women’s only) and Transylvania (men’s and women’s). The Eagles will seek membership in the National Women’s Lacrosse League (NWLL) and the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) as lacrosse has yet to become a sponsored sport in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).
“The addition of men’s and women’s lacrosse is a big step for Asbury,” Perdue said. “We are excited to add these two programs and embark on new initiatives for department and institutional growth.”
Men’s and women’s lacrosse will become the 16th and 17th varsity sports offered at Asbury, joining baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, men’s and women’s soccer, softball, men’s and women’s swimming, men’s and women’s tennis and women’s volleyball.
Each lacrosse team will field a 25-person roster and play a full slate of games in 2015. The teams will play their home games at the existing soccer complex and also utilize existing practice fields.
There are currently 35 NAIA schools that offer men’s lacrosse (14 at the varsity level) and 22 NAIA schools offer it on the women’s side (with eight as varsity teams). The NAIA mandates 50 schools sponsor the sport at the varsity level before it can become a championship sport, but a national tournament can be held once 15 schools sponsor the sport and a coaches association is established.
In Kentucky, there are 28 boy’s high-school teams including every high school in Lexington. There are also 16 girl’s high-school teams. Lacrosse has been steadily on the rise in popularity in recent years with the National Federation of High Schools reporting a 57.1 percent increase in the number of high schools offering lacrosse as a varsity sport from 2006 to 2011. During that same time, girl’s lacrosse has grown by 48.2 percent. Collegiately, men’s lacrosse has grown by 26.1 percent and women’s lacrosse at a 31.7 percent clip.
“Asbury’s tradition of academic excellence and spiritual vitality keeps it out front in the classroom, in the community and on the athletic fields,” Perdue said. “With lacrosse being the fastest-growing sport at youth, high-school and collegiate levels, it’s no surprise Asbury is becoming one of the first universities in the state to offer it to both men and women on the intercollegiate level.”