GREENVILLE, S.C. -- The Atlantic Sun Conference announced today that the inaugural women's lacrosse teams from Furman and Elon will debut their programs as affiliate members of the conference, potentially as early as 2014.
"We get fired up every time we can announce expanded competitive opportunities for student-athletes," said A-Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart. "Women's lacrosse continues to grow in the south, and we are pleased and proud to welcome two outstanding university programs to A-Sun Lacrosse. Elon University and Furman University will both be outstanding affiliate members and we look forward to the contributions their women's lacrosse teams will bring to the conference."
A-Sun member Jacksonville currently fields a women's lacrosse team, and the Dolphins will be joined by sister schools Kennesaw State and Stetson and other new affiliate members, Detroit Mercy and Howard, in 2013. A-Sun member Mercer begins in 2014. The A-Sun joins the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Big South Conference as sponsors of the sport in the Southeast.
"We are very excited to call the Atlantic Sun home for our women's lacrosse program," said Dr. Gary Clark, Furman Director of Athletics. "The Atlantic Sun provides us with the opportunity to compete at high level with schools that share a similar approach to athletics and academics."
"I am very excited for Furman to join the Atlantic Sun Conference," said Rachel Whitten, Furman head women's lacrosse coach. "The addition of these four teams will add some great competition to the league, which will have a strong impact on Division I lacrosse. Fans can really see the growth of the sport across the country, especially with this conference's expansion."
Paladin Stadium will serve as the venue for all home games.
Along with being the fastest growing sport in the NCAA, women's lacrosse 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.
The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast.
The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, Northern Kentucky University, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.