June 3, 2013
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Big Ten Conference announced today (Monday, June 3) the formation of a men's and women's lacrosse conference, in which the University of Michigan men's and women's lacrosse teams will begin competition during the 2014-15 academic year.
"Men's and women's lacrosse are great additions to the official lineup of Big Ten sponsored sports," said Dave Brandon, the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics. "Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing sports in the country and we are happy that the conference will contribute to its growth. It's an exciting, fast paced competition that is fan-friendly and will be great inventory for television networks. Competing in a Big Ten league will be a big boost for our newest varsity teams."
"This is a historic day for the growth and development of women's lacrosse and we couldn't be happier with this announcement," said women's lacrosse coach Jennifer Ulehla. "The opportunity to compete within the Big Ten Conference among these prestigious and competitive women's lacrosse programs is an absolute honor. The national championship excellence of Northwestern, Maryland and Penn State, combined with the strength of Ohio State and Rutgers, makes this conference exceptional. We are excited to be among such greatness as we begin our journey of building a solid program filled with a rich tradition of success. We look forward to playing our first season in the American Lacrosse Conference (ALC) where our Team One will gain a tremendous amount of experience before Team Two enters the Big Ten in 2015."
On the women's side, the new conference will include Michigan, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State, as well as new Big Ten Conference members Maryland and Rutgers, who are scheduled to become full-fledged members of the conference in 2014-15. Johns Hopkins University will also join the Big Ten as a sport affiliate member in men's lacrosse starting with 2014-15 academic year.
"The Big Ten is about tradition, and Johns Hopkins lacrosse is woven into the history of the sport," said men's lacrosse coach John Paul. "We are thrilled that our student-athletes will have the opportunity to compete for Big Ten championships and that Hopkins is the program coming on board to make it possible."
In addition to Michigan and Johns Hopkins, the men's conference will also feature Ohio State, Penn State, Rutgers and Maryland.
Big Ten rules allow for a conference championship when six institutions sponsor a program in any given sport.
Under the guidance of Ulehla, the Wolverines will compete in the American Lacrosse Conference during their inaugural season in 2014. Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State are currently members of the ALC, along with Johns Hopkins, Florida and Vanderbilt. On Nov. 21, 2012, Ulehla announced the program's first recruiting class, which includes 28 incoming freshmen.
Paul and the Wolverines will enter their third year as a varsity program in 2013-14, and continue competing in the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC), before joining the Big Ten for the 2015 season. Ohio State is the only other current ECAC team that will also transition to the Big Ten.
With the addition of men's and women's lacrosse, the Big Ten will now sponsor 28 varsity sports.
Contact: Dave Ablauf, Whitney Dixon (734) 763-4423