MACON, Ga. - The University of Richmond men's lacrosse team will join the Atlantic Sun as an affiliate member when the squad begins Division I play in the spring of 2014, the athletic department announced on Monday.
"We are very excited to open our inaugural season here at Richmond in the Atlantic Sun." Richmond head coach Dan Chemotti. "The sport of lacrosse continues to grow across the country especially down south. I'm confident that our A-Sun lacrosse schools will be great ambassadors for the sport in that region and will represent lacrosse the way it deserves to be represented."
The Atlantic Sun Conference will debut men's lacrosse as an NCAA Division I championship sport in the spring of 2014, adding its third new sport in as many years and the 20th sport overall to its roster.
The A-Sun will coordinate conference competition for the following group of men's lacrosse programs: Jacksonville, Mercer, Furman (affiliate), High Point (affiliate), Richmond (affiliate) and VMI (affiliate). Furman and Richmond will play their inaugural seasons in 2013-14.
"We couldn't be happier about joining the Atlantic Sun in men's lacrosse," Richmond Director of Athletics Keith Gill remarked. "Along with the other five schools, including in-state rival VMI, we believe this is a good fit for our program."
The A-Sun becomes the 10th conference in NCAA Division I to sponsor men's lacrosse as a championship sport, joining the America East, Atlantic Coast, Big East, Colonial Athletic Association, ECAC Lacrosse League, Ivy League, Metro Atlantic Athletic, Northeast Conference, and the Patriot League, in addition to a group of independent schools. For the 2012-13 academic year, there are 63 NCAA-sanctioned Division I men's lacrosse teams.
"We are very proud to continue a tradition of growth in the Atlantic Sun Conference with the addition of men's lacrosse as our newest championship sport," said A-Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart. "The A-Sun continues to be a leader in building opportunities for student-athletes and we are very excited about working with the distinguished institutions who will be joining us to provide this additional conference championship. From our debut as the first Division I conference to sponsor sand volleyball last spring, to this spring's initial women's lacrosse championship and on to men's lacrosse next spring, we are committed to expanding competitive opportunities and forging partnerships that will allow us to meet that goal."
The six teams will play a single round robin schedule, along with the championship to be scheduled in May of 2014. As a multi-sport conference, the A-Sun is immediately eligible for automatic qualification into the NCAA championship. The NCAA Championships Cabinet determines the format for NCAA championships.
"The A-Sun welcomes the addition of men's lacrosse and the outstanding institutions who will be affiliate members," said Dr. Wilson Bradshaw, FGCU President and A-Sun Presidents Council Chair. "We are pleased to continue the expansion of A-Sun competition and the growth in opportunities for our student-athletes."
The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun footprint reaches into seven of the top media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, Northern Kentucky University, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.