Mercer to Add Lacrosse
MACON — Mercer University will add men’s NCAA D-I
lacrosse to its intercollegiate athletic program during the
2010-2011 academic year and will add a Division I women’s
team in 2011-2012, athletics director Bobby Pope announced today.
Mercer is the first NCAA Division I institution in the state to
announce the addition of lacrosse to its athletic program.
The sport, which originated among Native American tribes in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic before the United States was colonized, has long been popular in those regions and is now the fastest-growing high school sport in Georgia and one of the fastest growing in the country. According to the latest participation survey by U.S. Lacrosse, the sport’s governing body, lacrosse is the fastest-growing high school sport for girls over the last 10 years and the second-fastest growing sport among boys. At the collegiate level, men’s lacrosse has been the fastest-growing sport over the past decade, while women’s has been the second-fastest-growing sport.
“Lacrosse is becoming a very popular sport in the Southeast,” Pope said. “We will be the first NCAA Division I program in Georgia, so this will be a great opportunity for Mercer to set the bar high for the sport in our state.”
The University added men’s lacrosse as a club sport in 2007-2008 and plans to add women’s club lacrosse for 2010-2011. The teams will then make the transition to Division I status in 2010-2011 and 2011-2012, respectively. Mercer will be one of the few universities in the Southeast to compete in NCAA Division I lacrosse, joining Duke, North Carolina, Presbyterian and Jacksonville. Currently, there are 64 NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse programs and 89 Division I women’s programs in the nation.
Pope said that the university plans to hire its first full-time lacrosse coach later this year to begin recruiting student-athletes for the teams.
Mercer is the only private NCAA Division I institution in Georgia and currently fields 14 intercollegiate teams, including baseball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s cross-country, men’s and women’s golf, rifle, men’s and women’s soccer and men’s and women’s tennis.