June 3, 2013
WATCH: Coach Amonte Hiller on B1G Women's Lacrosse
EVANSTON, Ill. -- The Big Ten Conference announced Monday the adoption of men's and women's lacrosse as the conference's 27th and 28th official sports beginning in the 2014-15 academic year, ushering in a new era for Northwestern's seven-time NCAA champion women's lacrosse program.
The Big Ten women's lacrosse conference will consist of Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan -- which will debut its varsity women's lacrosse program in the 2014 season -- and Big Ten newcomers Maryland and Rutgers. Big Ten rules allow for a conference championship when six institutions sponsor a program in any given sport.
Big Ten Commissioner James E. Delany and the Conference also announced that Johns Hopkins University has been accepted as a sport affiliate member for men's lacrosse only beginning in 2014-15, the first such affiliation of its kind in the history of Big Ten athletics.
"This is an extremely exciting announcement for the entire lacrosse community," said Northwestern head coach and five-time National Coach of the Year Kelly Amonte Hiller. "Gaining the support, stability, TV coverage and brand association of one of the most prestigious college conferences in the country is an enormous step forward for our sport. We are thankful to Commissioner Delany for his leadership in making Big Ten women's lacrosse a reality and look forward to competing for a Big Ten championship in 2015."
"Lacrosse is an emerging sport among our current schools and is a long-held passion among our East Coast institutions," Delany said. "With the addition of Maryland and Rutgers in all sports and Johns Hopkins for men's lacrosse, we will have the requisite number of institutions to make men's and women's lacrosse official conference sports, building upon our tradition of broad-based sports competition."
With its inception, the Big Ten instantly becomes one of the most competitive conferences in Division I women's lacrosse, boasting teams that have won a combined 19 of 32 NCAA women's lacrosse championships and 23 championships overall. In addition to the seven championships won by the Wildcats under Amonte Hiller, Maryland brings with it to the Big Ten 11 national championships (10 NCAA) while Penn State claims five national titles, two under the current NCAA format.
Northwestern, which competed as a varsity program from 1982-93 before being reinstated in 2002, is 40-13 all-time against future Big Ten Conference opponents and 30-5 against those schools under Amonte Hiller.
The 2014 campaign will be Northwestern's 13th and final season as a member of the American Lacrosse Conference; the 'Cats have shared or won outright the league's regular-season crown nine times and claimed six of seven ALC Tournament championships.
Following the addition of Maryland and Rutgers in 2014, the broad-based athletic programs of the 14 Big Ten institutions will sponsor nearly 350 teams in 42 different sports with almost 9,500 student-athletes, more than any other conference. The Big Ten currently features 25 official conference sports (12 for men, 13 for women), but is set to add men's ice hockey as the 26th conference sport this fall. The last official women's conference sport established by the Big Ten was women's rowing in the 1999-2000 academic year.
Details related to future Big Ten women's lacrosse regular-season schedules and postseason championships will be announced at a later date.
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