February 14, 2013

UMass-Lowell to Add Division I Men's, Women's Lacrosse

Part of jump to America East conference

updated 02.14.2013 at 11.46 a.m.

by Corey McLaughlin | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

UMass-Lowell chancellor Marty Meehan said the America East is a great fit for the university's athletic and academic programs.
© Gil Talbot/UMass-Lowell

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell is making the move to Division I in all sports starting this fall, will join the America East conference and add men's and women's lacrosse for the 2014-15 academic year, UMass-Lowell athletic director Dana Skinner announced at a press conference Thursday morning.

In an open letter to UMass-Lowell constituents on Thursday night, university chancellor Marty Meehan said the school's athletics programs, which have competed in NCAA Division II since 1975, will join the America East and go Division I on July 1.

"We didn't expect the process to move quite as quickly as it did, but when the opportunity arose in America East, we realized we had found that match," Meehan said.

The school will begin competing in 14 sports in Division I in the 2013-14 academic year, but will not be eligible for postseason play while it completes the four-year NCAA reclassification from Division II to Division I. The River Hawks will be full Division I members of America East in 2017-18.

Current America East members in lacrosse are Albany (men and women), Binghamton (men and women), UMBC (men and women), Stony Brook (men and women), Vermont (men and women), Hartford (men), New Hampshire (women) and Boston University (women), although BU, which has added men's lacrosse, will leave the America East for the Patriot League on July 1.

"At many universities, Division I athletics is the front porch of the institution. Whether that's right, wrong, fair, or unfair, it's the way people view an institution," Skinner told the Boston Globe. "Their first image of an institution, in a lot of ways, is what happens with their intercollegiate athletic program. That's the world we live in, and we want to take full advantage and make sure our best foot is forward.

"This is a new era, obviously, for athletics, but for the institution and the region it's very important," Skinner said. "Division I athletics can position our university, regionally and nationally, in a way that I'm not sure we could otherwise. It's one of those transformational moments."

With the exception of its men's ice hockey team, UMass-Lowell has competed as a NCAA Division II member and a member of the Northeast-10 Conference since 2000.

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