BETHANY, W.Va. (Sept. 27) – Bethany College Director of Athletics Brian Rose announced the department will be bringing a new varsity sport to campus, as women’s lacrosse will be started at the College, possibly as soon as the 2017-18 academic year.
The announcement to add the college’s 22nd varsity sport coincides with the decision to officially discontinue the Bethany field hockey program, which was suspended in July for the 2016 season due to a lack of student-athletes.
“After a long process through the summer of evaluating field hockey and other options for our 22nd varsity sport, we decided that the best fit for the College moving forward was to start a women’s lacrosse program,” said Rose. “The sport continues to grow regionally and nationally and we are excited to add women’s lacrosse to our department."
“While we look forward to the future of women’s lacrosse at Bethany, it was an extremely hard decision to discontinue field hockey,” said Rose. “The sport of field hockey has a history at Bethany, but the situation that developed over the summer and inability to field a team this season, drew us to the conclusion that we needed to go in another direction to balance out our department. I want to thank the student-athletes who donned Bethany colors for the field hockey program the last four years for their hard work. It was their dedication that made this such a difficult decision.”
Bethany’s women’s lacrosse program will aim to debut in the spring of 2018 as a member of the Ohio River Lacrosse Conference (ORLC), but if recruiting numbers at this late stage don’t yield a large enough team, the Bison will compete as a club team in 2018 and begin varsity competition in the spring of 2019.
With this announcement, Bethany will join current Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC) members Washington & Jefferson, Saint Vincent, Thomas More, Waynesburg and Thiel, who all compete in the ORLC along with Transylvania, Mount St. Joseph, Franklin and Hanover, who comprise the rest of the ORLC out of the Heartland Conference.
In addition to the previously listed PAC programs, Westminster will play its first varsity women’s lacrosse season in 2017 and Chatham has announced it will begin a women’s lacrosse program in the spring of 2018 as well. The PAC plans to split from the ORLC and bring lacrosse under the PAC umbrella as a conference sport whenever the league reaches seven full men’s and women’s programs, which could be as soon as 2019.
“Lacrosse has grown very quickly in the PAC, which played a role in the decision to start a program,” said Rose. “By getting to compete in the ORLC and possibly the PAC in the future, our program will have a chance to vie for conference championships and honors immediately. We will be competing against our PAC colleagues, which will continue the long-standing rivalries our alumni and fans have enjoyed in all our sports. We are looking forward to building a women’s lacrosse program that will contend in a very competitive conference and be another source of Bison Pride for the College and athletic department.”
The Bethany Men’s Lacrosse team, which debuted as a varsity sport in the 2010-11 academic year, is currently a member of the ORLC and recently completed its sixth year of competition.
A national search for a women’s lacrosse head coach will immediately commence.