By: Dez King
ATHENS, TENNESSEE- The National Association Of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Administrative Council (NAC) voted to approve both men’s and women’s Lacrosse teams to be able t0 compete at the national level. There will be 27 men’s and 30 women’s teams represented by 37 schools with another 15 NAIA schools that offer club teams with the possibility of transitioning into Varsity teams in the near future. The Inaugural Invitational for both men and women will be held in May of 2016.
Invitational sports status are second-level competition in the NAIA emerging sports policy, with Championship sport status being first-level competition. For a sport to be recognized as an Invitational Status, at least 25 schools must state the intention of sponsoring the sport, and the NAC has to agree to approve the applications for Invitational Status. The same process is held for Championship Status, but at this level at least 40 schools must be approved for the sport.
During summer, the Appalachian Athletic Conference added Men’s lacrosse as a championship sport in the spring of 2016. Women’s lacrosse was added a year before with the Lady Bulldogs going undefeated in the conference and winning the first AAC women’s lacrosse title in 2015. This season the AAC consist of seven schools; Asbury, Cumberland University, Montreat, Point, Reinhardt, St. Andrews and Tennessee Wesleyan. Most of the added teams are familiar with one another and have competed in the Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association (MCLA).
The Bulldogs favored well last season with both teams making their way into the playoffs and hope to build off their success. The Lady Bulldogs brought in a new head coach, Patrice Allen. The men’s team is adding a total of 14 young players. Both AAC fans and Bulldog fans can anticipate seeing some exceptional lacrosse from both teams this Spring.