Eastern Michigan to offer women's lacrosse starting in 2021-22

The program reflects the University’s commitment to provide more athletic and academic opportunities for women

EMU lacrosse gear

YPSILANTI, Mich. (EMUEagles.com) – Eastern Michigan University announced today, Nov. 6, that the EMU Department of Athletics will add women's lacrosse as a varsity sport. The program will play its inaugural season against NCAA Division I competition in the 2021-22 academic year.

The announcement takes place at the same time the Mid-American Conference announced that it will be adding the sport as a conference championship beginning with the 2021 season. Eastern will be the fourth full-time MAC institution to sponsor the sport at the NCAA Division I level. Central Michigan added the sport in 2016, Kent State began playing in 2019, while Akron is set to field a team for the first time in 2020. Detroit-Mercy and Youngstown State are also joining as MAC affiliate members.

 “Women’s lacrosse is growing at an incredible pace and we are excited to expand opportunities for Michigan high school women to participate in a Division I sport and the academic experiences that Eastern Michigan provides,” said EMU Vice President/Director of Athletics Scott Wetherbee. “We are committed to providing more athletic and academic opportunities for women and we believe the sport is a strong fit for our athletic program. We are very excited about the addition and I am certain the team will contribute to our legacy of athletic success."

The program will include the NCAA maximum of 12 scholarships and a target roster of 35. The team will play its games at a yet to be determined location.

The addition of women's lacrosse will increase Eastern's sport total to 19, including 12 women's programs. It marks the first addition of a new varsity sport at the University since women's rowing began competition in the 2001-02 academic year.

EMU has the goal of hiring the first lacrosse head coach in the spring of 2020. Additional coaching and support staff will be added in 2020 and 2021.

"I am pleased our membership is adding the sport of women’s lacrosse to our offering of championships,” said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon A. Steinbrecher.  “This is truly a historic day as women’s lacrosse has been a topic of conversation among our membership. The addition of women’s lacrosse adds to our already broad offering of championship opportunities for student-athletes. I am already looking forward to the inaugural season."                                                                                            

Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing team sports in America. At the NCAA Division I level, individual participation in women's lacrosse increased by more than 46 percent from 2012-18. During that same time period, collegiate sponsorship of the sport grew by more than 34 percent.

The lacrosse season, which typically consists of around 17 contests (approximately half of which are home games), begins in February and runs through May. The 2020 NCAA Women's Lacrosse National Championship will be held May 22-24, at Johns Hopkins' Homewood Field in Baltimore, Md.

About Eastern Michigan University Athletics

Eastern Michigan University has been a member of the Mid-American Conference since 1971 and has been among the league's most successful members. The Division I program boasts 149 MAC team championships, the most of any team in the league during that span. Eastern Michigan, which has had a representative at every summer Olympics since 1960, has won 15 team national championships and 55 individual national titles since 1932.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education.

About the Mid-American Conference

Founded in 1946, the Mid-American Conference is an NCAA Division I, 12-member conference that sponsors 23 championships, and will increase to 24 championships in 2020-21, and is one of 10 members of the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). With total enrollment of nearly 300,000 students, the league represents institutions of higher learning in five (5) states - Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New York, and Ohio.

Current full member institutions and the year they joined are -- East Division: University of Akron (1992), Bowling Green State University (1952), University at Buffalo (1998), Kent State University (1951), Miami University (1947), Ohio University (1946). West Division: Ball State University (1973), Central Michigan University (1971), Eastern Michigan University (1971), Northern Illinois University (1975-86, rejoined in 1997), University of Toledo (1950), Western Michigan University (1947).  The conference office is based in Cleveland, Ohio. For more information visit www.GetSomeMACtion.com.

 

Lacrosse Frequently Asked Questions

WHY IS EASTERN MICHIGAN ADDING A SPORT?

This decision best positions the University’s Athletics programs for the future. The addition of athletics offerings at Eastern Michigan University is a complex and strategic decision that takes into consideration a number of factors, including high school and college sports participation rates, and resource requirements. It focuses on the most effective means for fulfilling the University's commitment to enable our student-athletes to achieve ambitious academic, athletic, and personal aspirations, and to compete successfully for conference championships and national recognition.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME EMU ADDED A SPORT?

The addition of women's lacrosse will increase Eastern's sport total to 19, including 12 women's programs. It marks the first addition of a new varsity sport at the University since women's rowing began competition in the 2001-02 academic year.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE LACROSSE?

According to a 2018-19 National Federation of High School Associations participation survey, women’s lacrosse is the fastest growing sport in high schools across the country. The sport saw a 53.6 percent increase in participation from 2008-09 (64,929) to 2018-19 (99,750).

Furthermore, at the NCAA Division I level, individual participation in women's lacrosse increased by more than 46 percent from 2012-18. During that same time period, collegiate sponsorship of the sport grew by more than 34 percent.

WHAT IS THE POPULARITY OF LACROSSE AT EMU AND IN MICHIGAN?

Women’s lacrosse is currently offered as a club sport at Eastern Michigan. The Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) already offers women’s lacrosse as a championship sport and has been sponsoring the sport since 2005. For the 2019-20 academic year, 88 schools make up the two MHSAA divisions.

WHEN IS THE FIRST COMPETITIVE SEASON?

EMU's women’s lacrosse inaugural season will take place in the 2021-22 academic year, with competition starting in the spring of 2022.

WHAT CONFERENCE WILL EMU COMPETE IN FOR WOMEN'S LACROSSE?

Eastern will be the fourth Mid-American Conference institution to sponsor the sport at the NCAA Division I level. Central Michigan added the sport in 2016, Kent State began playing in 2019, while Akron is set to field a team for the first time in 2020.

The MAC is adding the sport as the league's 24th championship sport beginning with the 2021 season. Detroit-Mercy and Youngstown State are joining as MAC affiliate members. For women, 13 MAC championships are sponsored in basketball, softball, volleyball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and diving, gymnastics, indoor track and field, outdoor track and field and tennis.

DO ENOUGH TEAMS COMPETE TO SCHEDULE REGIONALLY AND NATIONALLY?

There are over 40 Division I women’s lacrosse programs in driving distance of Ypsilanti. Nationally, there are 116 Division I women’s lacrosse programs with more being added in the coming years.

Regional rivalries could include: Butler, Canisius, Cincinnati, Duquesne, Michigan, Niagara, Ohio State, and Pittsburgh.

WHAT FACILITIES WILL THE TEAM USE FOR PRACTICES AND COMPETITION?

The team will play its games at a yet to be determined location.

HOW MANY ROSTER SPOTS DO YOU PLAN TO HAVE?

The program will include the NCAA maximum of 12 scholarships and a target roster of 35.

WHO WILL COACH THE TEAM?

EMU has the goal of hiring the first lacrosse head coach in the spring of 2020. Additional coaching and support staff will be added in 2020 and 2021.

HOW DOES THIS DECISION AFFECT EMU'S TITLE IX COMPLIANCE?

The addition of lacrosse is one of many efforts Eastern Michigan has undertaken to maintain its laser focus on Title IX compliance. We presently have more opportunities for female student athletes on campus than we ever have. In fact, more than 50 percent of our student athletes this year are women, and that number will increase further with the addition of lacrosse and our other ongoing efforts. At present, the lawsuit brought in 2018 by members of our tennis team and former softball team remains pending in federal court.  We cannot discuss the ongoing litigation, but our commitment to Title IX compliance has never wavered.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I WANT TO BE RECRUITED/PLAY?

Those interested should fill out a potential student-athlete questionnaire.

Are there plans to add or drop other sports?

With the return of women's tennis in 2019-20 and the addition of women's lacrosse in 2021-22, the University has no plans to add or discontinue any other sports at EMU.

November 06, 2019

Written by:
Greg Steiner

Contact:
Greg Steiner
gsteiner2@emich.edu
734-487-0318