NAPERVILLE, Ill. -- The College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin (CCIW) announced on Friday the addition of men's and women's lacrosse beginning with the 2014-15 academic year.
The CCIW council of presidents voted to approve the addition of both sports, bringing the conference's total number of sports sponsored to 23.
This announcement marks the first time since 2001 when the conference added men's and women's indoor track & field that the CCIW has added to its sport sponsorship list. Before that, the conference added women's golf in 1996.
"The CCIW is excited about adding men's and women's lacrosse as we will be capitalizing on the recent growth of lacrosse around the country," CCIW commissioner Chris Martin said. "This is a significant step and we look forward to crowning conference champions in both sports following the 2015 season."
According to a recent report published by the NCAA, lacrosse saw the highest growth of any sport in 2012-13 as 40 women's programs and 26 men's programs were added across all three divisions. A total of 207 Division III men's programs and 240 Division III women's programs competed in 2012-13.
Five CCIW institutions will be competing in women's lacrosse by the spring of 2015 including Augustana, Carthage, Elmhurst, Illinois Wesleyan and North Central. A total of four CCIW institutions currently compete in men's lacrosse including Augustana, Carthage, Elmhurst and Illinois Wesleyan.
On the women's side, Augustana, Carthage and North Central will compete in its final season as members of the Midwest Women's Lacrosse Conference in the spring of 2014 while Elmhurst's and Illinois Wesleyan's first year of women's lacrosse will also be the first under the CCIW. On the men's side, Augustana, Carthage and Elmhurst will withdraw from the Midwest Lacrosse Conference following the 2014 season while Illinois Wesleyan will play the year as an independent.
Moving forward, the athletics directors and conference administrators will work toward the creation and structure of a conference schedule as well as post-season opportunities.