November 8, 2011

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Kennesaw State to Add Division I Women's Lacrosse in 2013

from press release

KENNESAW, Ga. – Kennesaw State University President Daniel S. Papp and KSU Director of Athletics Vaughn Williams are proud to announce the addition of women's lacrosse as the university's 17th NCAA Division I championship sport, with intercollegiate competition beginning in the spring of 2013.

The Kennesaw State Owls women's lacrosse program will compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference, which will be sponsoring the sport for the first time beginning in 2013. The Owls have been members of the conference since the fall of 2005, with all 16 of Kennesaw State's existing varsity sports competing for A-Sun championships.

The addition of women's lacrosse at KSU fulfills a commitment made to the Atlantic Sun Conference when Kennesaw State joined the A-Sun in 2005, at which time KSU officials agreed to add a new sport to the Athletic Department's offerings. At the university's request, the A-Sun has granted KSU several delays, however now it is time for the university to begin launching the new sport.

"Lacrosse is a sport that is growing very quickly in the southeast, and it will be an excellent addition to our already-strong offering of intercollegiate athletics at Kennesaw State," Williams said. "In meeting our obligation to the Atlantic Sun Conference to add a sport, we are thankful that our options included women's lacrosse, which has the opportunity to flourish at Kennesaw State. This is consistent with the vision of our department and our university to strive for our students here to have the best collegiate experience possible."

With the addition of women's lacrosse, Kennesaw State will become the first NCAA Division I athletic program in the Atlanta metropolitan area to sponsor the sport, and along with Mercer will be one of just two Division I programs in the state of Georgia.

"We look forward to adding lacrosse here at Kennesaw State University and to working with Atlantic Sun Conference officials to take a leading role in positioning this sport here in Georgia," Papp said. "This is a major step in the enhancement of KSU's athletics program, and adds yet another exciting sport in which our female athletes can compete."

Joining the Owls in A-Sun lacrosse competition will be fellow conference members Jacksonville, Mercer and Stetson, with Longwood, Detroit Mercy and Howard competing as affiliate members. Though the conference will not immediately offer an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, the Owls will be eligible right away to qualify for an at-large bid to the postseason.

The search for a head coach to lead the Owls inaugural squad will begin during the late winter or early spring.

"Our goal is to find the best coach that we can, and one that will share our mission of being immediately competitive, both in the conference and nationally," Williams remarked. "Keeping in line with the 16 sports that we currently have, from day one, our women's lacrosse program will aim to win championships in the classroom, in the community, and on the field of competition."

The decision of Kennesaw State and the A-Sun to add women's lacrosse speaks to the exponential growth the sport has seen over the past several years. According to a U.S. Lacrosse Participation Study completed in 2010, the total number of high school student-athletes playing boys and girls lacrosse grew from 100,925 in 2001 to 255,314 in 2010, with 105,914 of those being girls. The popularity among youth under 15 years old is even more prevalent, with 122,946 girls participating as of 2010.

Lacrosse's growth in popularity at the youth and high-school levels has worked its' way up to the collegiate ranks. As recently as 2004, just 77 NCAA Division I programs fielded women's lacrosse teams, while the 2011 season saw 91 teams participate, with more slated to begin competition in the near future.


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