By Bailey Ezell
In a press conference on Thursday, Feb. 9 President Smolla announced Furman’s plan to introduce men’s and women’s lacrosse teams beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.
The idea began to form within the last year or so but came to fruition when discussed in relation to Furman’s strategic plan for increasing admissions as well as Furman’s geographic footprint. The university looks to expand its reach to the Northeast and Atlantic coast, both regions in which lacrosse is a prominent sport. Lacrosse is the fastest growing intercollegiate sport in the NCAA and Furman is anxious to join the national movement.
As a result of adding these two teams, Furman’s varsity athletics department will consist of 20 intercollegiate sports. Furman has a long and proud Division I history and looks to continue that tradition with the addition of these two sports. The Southern Conference does not currently sponsor lacrosse, however, which leaves the sport’s conference affiliation to be determined.
A $5 million anonymous gift pledged to the University will fund the new program and the process of implementing the program has already begun. Gary Clarke, Furman’s athletic director, will begin taking steps to hire men’s and women’s head coaches within the year in order to get the recruiting process underway in time to recruit and field a team for the 2014-2015 season.
The search for coaches will begin within the next few weeks. Because lacrosse seasons are just now getting underway, however, it will take a couple of months for the search to conclude. It is hoped that the hiring process will be completed and that the coaches will be in place by the first of May in order to begin recruiting.
The coaches will have as their task, identifying and recruiting players for the fall of 2013. In addition, once head coaches are in place, the rest of the staffing will be addressed in increments and locations for locker rooms, practice and game fields will be decided.