WEST POINT, N.Y. – The U.S. Military Academy at West Point announced it will add women’s lacrosse to its NCAA athletics lineup beginning with the 2015-16 season on Monday morning.
Director of Athletics Boo Corrigan, along with the West Point leadership team, approved the addition to its Division I athletics program, which currently sponsors 25 intercollegiate sports.
Beginning in 2015-16, women’s lacrosse will become the eighth member of the Patriot League, which currently supports American, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh and Navy’s women’s lacrosse programs. This announcement will elevate West Point from the competitive club level, from which it has competed since 1979, to varsity status.
According to the NCAA’s 2012-13 participation report, lacrosse is the fastest growing collegiate sport. The sport with the highest numbers of teams added in 2012-13 was lacrosse, with 26 new men’s programs and 40 new women’s programs added across Divisions I, II and III.
“We are thrilled to announce today the addition of women’s lacrosse as a Division I sport. We believe the sport speaks directly to the warrior ethos that is one of the bedrocks upon which West Point is built,” said Corrigan. “We are fortunate to attract the best and brightest here at West Point and we could not be more excited to provide another avenue, through women’s lacrosse, to fulfill our mission in developing leaders of character.
“This addition makes sense for us,” Corrigan added. “The academy has supported women’s lacrosse at the club level for many years and has had great success. We look forward to continuing that tradition through the Division I platform in the Patriot League, which has proven to be one of the top lacrosse conferences in the country. We look to be successful on the lacrosse field and in the development of women officers in the U.S. Army.”
The U.S. Military Academy graduated its first class to include women in 1980. The Class of 2017, the most recent accepted, is made up of approximately 16 percent women. West Point anticipates enrollment numbers to rise in future classes as the growing need for women officers increases in the U.S. Army.
“I’m proud to support the elevation of women’s lacrosse to Division I status,” said USMA Superintendent Robert L. Caslen Jr., “It is a great addition to our robust varsity sports programs where the history of women’s athletics at West Point has been one of excellence.”
On the women’s side, Army currently sponsors basketball, cross country, swimming and diving, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field and volleyball on the Division I level. The men’s teams include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, gymnastics, hockey, lacrosse, rifle, sprint football, swimming and diving, soccer, tennis, track and field and wrestling. Rifle competes as the Army’s only co-ed sport.
Army’s most recent Division I intercollegiate sport added was women’s soccer in 1986.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING ABOUT ARMY WOMEN’S LACROSSE
Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen, 59th Superintendent, United States Military Academy
“Of course, this is tremendous news in the world of college athletics, but it’s equally as exciting for the Academy and the U.S. Army. We are committed to commissioning diverse and effective officers into the U.S. Army each year. When considering the current climate and an increase emphasis on the important role female officers serve in our armed forces, the addition of a 10th women’s Division I sport at Army correlates with the mission at large. On behalf of the Academy and Gen. (Ray) Odierno, we are so pleased to be witnessing this growth within our female ranks and cannot wait to catch the Black Knights in 2015-16. Go Army!”
Boo Corrigan, Athletic Director, United States Military Academy
“There could not be more excitement and anticipation as we officially announcement the addition of women’s lacrosse as a Division I sport here at Army. We are absolutely thrilled with this development as we look to showcase more of the tremendous female cadet-athletes we have here at the Academy. Lacrosse is the NCAA’s fastest growing sport, so it is only fitting that the Academy joins the movement. We will spend the coming months putting the pieces of this addition together and officially join the Patriot League for the 2015-16 season. Once again, we are extremely excited to bring this news to you and look forward to the future of Army women’s lacrosse. Go Army!”
Carolyn Schlie Femovich, Executive Director, Patriot League
“It’s my pleasure to welcome Army women’s lacrosse to the Patriot League. They are joining a very distinguished and competitive group of institutions, and we look forward to them joining our competition in 2016.”
Kerstin Kimel, Head Coach, Duke
“I’d like to officially welcome the Army Black Knights to the ranks of Division I women’s lacrosse. It is only fitting that our nation’s first, oldest and in some ways our most prestigious, military service academy is finally adding the sport of women’s lacrosse. Here’s hoping that their add is the start of another big boom for our sport. The Blue Devils look forward to making their first trip to Army in the future. Go Black Knights!”
Jenny Levy, Head Coach, North Carolina
“Army, thank you for adding women’s lacrosse! This is the fastest growing sport in the nation, and you’re part of the growth. We’re so excited to add another DI school, so welcome to our community. We can’t wait to see you on the field. I also hope I’m there to see the first Army-Navy game. Go women’s lacrosse!”
Kelly Amonte Hiller, Head Coach, Northwestern
“I’d like to pass along a big congrats to West Point for adding women’s lacrosse. It’s an amazing thing for the institution. They obviously have a great tradition of building leaders for this country with great character, and I know their women’s lacrosse program will be an incredible success. It’s also great for the expansion of the sport. It shows how exciting our game is. Congratulations, best of luck and we look forward to seeing you.”
Julie Myers, Head Coach, University of Virginia
“I want to be one of the first people to welcome Army to the women’s lacrosse scene. We’re so excited to have another great school host an awesome sport. Army has done a great job on the men’s side with lacrosse, and we’re very excited to get another great program coming out of Army in the next couple of years. It’s great timing for Army to add another program to their athletic department. Women’s lacrosse is growing by leaps and bounds with more and more high school kids who are looking for great programs to play for at exceptional universities. Certainly Army fits both of those molds. What a great education, experience and career that follows. I think it will present an awesome opportunity for young women.”