CENTERVILLE, Mass. – The Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) has added the University of Michigan to its Division I men’s lacrosse league, ECAC commissioner Rudy Keeling and U-M athletics director Dave Brandon said in a joint statement. ECAC lacrosse league athletic directors unanimously voted to admit Michigan as the conference’s eighth member.

“Michigan will be an exceptional addition to the ECAC lacrosse league,” Keeling said. “After having been one of the strongest club teams in the country, Michigan is now committed to making its varsity men’s lacrosse team one of the best in the nation. The ECAC is excited to welcome the institution as our newest member.”  

The Wolverines, who have compiled one of the best club programs in the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association, will be elevated to varsity status for the 2012 season and will compete in the ECAC as an affiliate member. Michigan will be eligible for the ECAC tournament championship the following year.

“The ECAC lacrosse conference is competitive and balanced and we are thrilled to be accepted for membership,” Brandon said. “We plan to schedule as many of the league schools as possible for the upcoming season while understanding the challenges of scheduling competitions this late in the cycle. We look forward to growing our program and earning the right to compete for championships.”

“We're very excited about joining the ECAC,” added Wolverines head coach John Paul. “Of course, we wanted to find a way to incorporate the best rivalry in college sports into our conference schedule, so the ECAC was in our sights from Day One because Ohio State was already a member. Top to bottom, the ECAC provides an opportunity to play an outstanding conference schedule against great programs. We feel like it's a perfect fit.”

U-M's club-varsity program has claimed three of the last four MCLA national championships and won Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association (CCLA) conference crowns in 11 of the past 13 seasons. The club program began in 1940 and was halted before World War II, but restarted in 1965 and has been competing ever since. The program was elevated to club-varsity status in 2001.

Paul has coached the program for the past 14 seasons, compiling a 241-44 record. U-M has been ranked No. 1 in the MCLA polls for the better part of the last four years. The Wolverines finished the 2011 season with an 18-1 record and finished No. 3 in the polls after having their bid for a fourth consecutive national title dashed with a 7-6 loss to Arizona State in the MCLA semifinals.

The ECAC lacrosse league is comprised of Air Force (2010), Bellarmine (2010), Denver (2010), Fairfield (2006), Hobart (2005), Loyola University Maryland (2005), Ohio State (2010) and now Michigan. The league begins its 14th season of competition in 2012.