The Big South Conference will sponsor women’s lacrosse as its 19th championship sport starting with the 2012-13 academic year.

Women’s lacrosse is the first sport the Big South has added since football in 2002.

Six Big South members will sponsor the sport by the time league competition begins in the spring of 2013 – Campbell, Coastal Carolina, High Point, Liberty, Presbyterian and Winthrop. Of those, High Point, Liberty and Presbyterian already compete at the Division I level. Campbell, Coastal Carolina and Winthrop will debut their respective women’s lacrosse programs in 2013.

“Women’s lacrosse is growing at an incredible pace, and we are pleased to be contributing to its popularity,” said Big South Commissioner Kyle Kallander. “We look forward to the inaugural 2013 season and competing on a national level.”

With six initial members, the Big South is immediately eligible to apply for an automatic bid to the Division I Women’s Lacrosse Championship, beginning with the 2013 season.  The Big South will begin the process of determining scheduling, championship format and award recognitions, among others, leading up to the inaugural 2013 campaign.

High Point played its first women’s lacrosse season this past year, and the Panthers finished with a 15-4 record – the most wins in history for a first-year Division I program.

Liberty’s program completed its second season in 2011 and went 7-11 overall, which marked a six-win improvement over its inaugural campaign.

Presbyterian has fielded a Division I women’s lacrosse team since 2008 and has improved on its victory total every season. The school recently named Julie Redman as its new head coach.

Coastal Carolina first announced its addition of women’s lacrosse as its 18th sport in May 2010.  The Chanticleers are planning to hire a head coach at the start of the 2011-12 academic year.

Winthrop announced in November 2010 that it would field a women’s lacrosse program to bring its sports sponsorship to 18. The school recently hired John Sung as its first head coach.

Campbell, which is officially re-joining the Big South on July 1, announced in May that it would begin sponsoring women’s lacrosse in 2013. It will be the school’s 21st varsity sport.