PROVIDENCE, R.I. - American Athletic Conference Commissioner Mike Aresco has announced the addition of women's lacrosse as the Conference's 22nd sport beginning in 2019. The six-team league will be comprised of current conference members University of Cincinnati, University of Connecticut, East Carolina University and Temple University, as well as the University of Florida and Vanderbilt University as affiliate members.
The American becomes the 16th Division I conference to sponsor women's lacrosse.
Cincinnati, UConn, Temple, Florida and Vanderbilt are current members of the Big East Conference in women's lacrosse, while ECU begins its first season of intercollegiate competition in 2018 after the addition of women's lacrosse to its sports roster in March 2016. Women's lacrosse is the first sport addition to the conference since its reinvention in 2013. The American will now sponsor 10 men's and 12 women's sports. The conference will conduct its first women's lacrosse championship in 2019 with the site and dates still to be determined. The American will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Championship.
"We are extremely pleased to be adding women's lacrosse as a conference sport," Aresco said. "The development of the sport has been impressive over the last decade and its popularity continues to grow. Our decision to sponsor women's lacrosse will be of great benefit to our membership and will provide our student-athletes with additional competitive opportunities and will enhance our conference's brand. I also want to take this opportunity to welcome Florida and Vanderbilt as affiliate members. These are two programs which have been highly successful at the national level. I look forward to watching our women's lacrosse league develop and achieve great success over the next several years."
UConn first began playing women's lacrosse in 1997. The Huskies are coached by Katie Woods, who is entering her eighth season on the Storrs campus. A two-time Big East coach-of-the-year honoree, Woods is the program's all-time winningest coach with 73 victories.
Cincinnati added women's lacrosse as a varsity sport in 2007 and began its first season of competition in 2008. The Bearcats are led by sixth-year head coach Gina Oliver, a three-time All-American at Ohio State.
Former North Carolina standout and Duke assistant coach Amanda Barnes is set to lead ECU in its first season of competition in 2018.
Temple has a storied history in women's lacrosse dating back to its first season in 1975. The Owls have earned 17 NCAA Championship berths, winning national titles in 1984 and 1988. Current head coach Bonnie Rosen, a 2010 US Lacrosse Hall of Fame inductee, has won 165 games during her career, including 97 in her 11 seasons at the helm of the Temple program.
Florida has made seven NCAA Championship appearances since it began playing women's lacrosse in 2010. The Gators advanced to the national semifinals in 2012 and have won three consecutive Big East crowns. Amanda O'Leary, who has guided Florida since the program's inception, coached at Yale from 1993-2007. Her 293 career victories ranks fifth all-time in Division I women's history.
Vanderbilt's first season of competition was in 1996. Head coach Cathy Swezey is entering her 21st season as head coach of the Commodores. She has led Vanderbilt to six NCAA tournament appearances, including a trip to the national semifinals in 2004.
THE AMERICAN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE
The American Athletic Conference (The American), a member of the NCAA, was reconstituted in 2013. With the conference office in Providence, Rhode Island, The American is comprised of the following institutions: UCF, Cincinnati, UConn, East Carolina, Houston, Memphis, Navy (in football only), USF, SMU, Temple, Tulane and Tulsa. Wichita State (basketball and Olympic sports) joined the Conference on July 1, 2017. Under the leadership of Commissioner Mike Aresco, The American sponsors 21 championships - 10 for men and 11 for women; is a member of the College Football Playoff; began new television partnerships with ESPN and CBS Sports in 2014; and has a marketing partnership with IMG College. For more information, please visit www.TheAmerican.org.