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University announces it will add women’s and men’s lacrosse as Division I sports

President Rod Smolla made the announcement at a news conference Thursday.

FEBRUARY 9, 2012

By Sports Information

Furman University director of athletics Dr. Gary Clark announced Thursday the school will introduce women’s and men’s lacrosse as varsity sports beginning with the 2014-15 school year.

“Furman University is excited to field women’s and men’s lacrosse teams and join the fastest growing sport in the NCAA,” said Clark in making the announcement at the Younts Center on campus. “Our goal is to hire women’s and men’s coaches in the next couple of months to begin the recruiting process necessary to field teams by the 2015 spring season.”

The new sports programs are being funded by a gift from an anonymous alumnus who pledged $5 million to the university in October 2011, the single largest outright commitment by an individual in Furman’s history. A portion of the gift is also being used to support the renovation and expansion of the University Center.

“From our students to our alumni and the greater lacrosse community, there is tremendous momentum around the addition of these two teams to our Division I athletics program,” said Furman president Rod Smolla. “We intend to be competitive at the national level, and reward our fans with an exciting brand of the fastest game on two feet.”

The addition of women’s and men’s lacrosse will give Furman 20 varsity intercollegiate sports, comprising 10 women’s programs and 10 men’s programs. The university has a long NCAA Division 1 athletics history and has been a member of the Southern Conference since 1936. The SoCon does not sponsor lacrosse, leaving Furman’s league affiliation for the sports to be determined.

The last time Furman added a new sport was during the 1994-95 school year. Women’s soccer began play in the fall of 1994 and has since captured six SoCon regular season championships and four league tournament crowns, and made five appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

NCAA Division I lacrosse currently features more than 90 women’s programs and 60 men’s programs.

The sport boasts the top graduation success rates (GSR) among all NCAA Division 1 sports. According to the latest NCAA figures released last May, women’s lacrosse posted a four-year class average GSR of 94 percent, which topped all 18 NCAA-sanctioned sports. Men’s lacrosse, meanwhile, achieved an 88 percent GSR over the same period, the best among any men’s sport offered in Division I. Furman’s athletics program registered an overall GSR of 95 percent in the latest reporting period, with seven of its sports earning perfect 100 percent marks.

Furman is a private, undergraduate liberal arts college of 2,700 students located in Greenville, S.C. The school is noted for its rigorous academic program and strong faculty, and its 750-acre campus is widely recognized as one of the most beautiful in the nation. The university has a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and ranks among the nation’s top colleges in the number of National Merit Scholars enrolled.


Last updated February 10, 2016
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Clinton Colmenares
News & Media Relations Director