Hope College will begin sponsoring intercollegiate lacrosse for men and women effective with the 2012-13 school year. The addition of these sports at Hope coincides with an announcement by the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) to add lacrosse as varsity sports for both genders on the same timetable.
"We are very excited about the transition of the women's and men's lacrosse programs from club sport to varsity sport status," said Dr. Mark Northuis, chair of the department of kinesiology at Hope. "Both programs have been very successful at the club sport level and will receive every opportunity to be successful while representing Hope College in intercollegiate play. Knowledgeable coaches, excellent facilities, and a strong nucleus of players will help both programs be very competitive as they begin their varsity programs."
Hope currently offers lacrosse as a club sport for men and women. Initiated in 1974, the men's program is one of the oldest established collegiate lacrosse club programs in Michigan. The men's team is a member of the Men's Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA) and plays in the Division II Central Collegiate Lacrosse Association conference.
The Flying Dutchmen finished the 2010-11 season with a 12-3-1 record and earned their first-ever bid to the MCLA National Tournament in Denver, Colorado. The women's program was started in 2000. The Flying Dutch in 2010-11 posted a program-best 11-3 record and for the first time advanced to the playoffs of Women's Collegiate Lacrosse League (WCLL). Competition in men's and women's lacrosse will begin with the non-traditional season in the fall of 2012 and conclude with conference regular season and tournament play in the spring of 2013, according to MIAA Commissioner David Neilson.
The addition of these sports brings to 20 the number of varsity sports the MIAA will sponsor in 2012-13, and marks the first new sports to be added to the conference's lineup since it added women's golf in 1991.
Seven MIAA member schools will sponsor men's and women's lacrosse in the 2012-13 season - Adrian, Albion, Alma, Calvin, Hope, Olivet and Trine, Neilson said. With the minimum of seven participating conference schools, the MIAA will receive an automatic qualification to NCAA Division III postseason competiton.
Lacrosse will continue as club sports during this school year, the Flying Dutchmen coached by Mike Schanhals and the Flying Dutch by Tracy Benjamin. With the addition lacrosse in 2012-13, Hope will sponsor 20 varsity sports, 10 for women and 10 for men.