WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Army announced on Monday it will add women's lacrosse to its NCAA athletics lineup beginning with the 2015-16 season.
Director of athletics Boo Corrigan, along with the West Point leadership team, approved the addition to its Division I athletics program, which currently sponsors 25 intercollegiate sports.
Beginning in 2015-16, women's lacrosse will become the 10th member of the Patriot League, which currently supports American, Boston University, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Loyola Maryland and Navy's programs. This announcement will elevate West Point from the competitive club level, from which it has competed since 1979, to varsity status.
According to the NCAA's 2012-13 participation report, lacrosse is the fastest growing collegiate sport. The sport with the highest numbers of teams added in 2012-13 was lacrosse, with 26 new men's programs and 40 new women's programs added across Divisions I, II and III.
"We are thrilled to announce today the addition of women's lacrosse as a Division I sport. We believe the sport speaks directly to the warrior ethos that is one of the bedrocks upon which West Point is built," Corrigan said. "We are fortunate to attract the best and brightest here at West Point and we could not be more excited to provide another avenue, through women's lacrosse, to fulfill our mission in developing leaders of character.
"This addition makes sense for us. The academy has supported women's lacrosse at the club level for many years and has had great success. We look forward to continuing that tradition through the Division I platform in the Patriot League, which has proven to be one of the top lacrosse conferences in the country. We look to be successful on the lacrosse field and in the development of women officers in the U.S. Army."
Army graduated its first class to include women in 1980. The Class of 2017, the most recent accepted, is made up of approximately 16 percent women. West Point anticipates enrollment numbers to rise in future classes as the growing need for women officers increases in the U.S. Army.
"I'm proud to support the elevation of women's lacrosse to Division I status," USMA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Robert L. Caslen Jr. said, "It is a great addition to our robust varsity sports programs where the history of women's athletics at West Point has been one of excellence."
On the women's side, Army currently sponsors basketball, cross country, swimming and diving, soccer, softball, tennis, track and field and volleyball on the Division I level. The men's teams include baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, gymnastics, hockey, lacrosse, rifle, sprint football, swimming and diving, soccer, tennis, track and field and wrestling. Rifle competes as the Army's only co-ed sport.
Army's most recent Division I intercollegiate sport added was women's soccer in 1986.