Kent State's women's lacrosse team will be a member of the ASUN Conference when it begins play in 2019, giving the league seven squads.
"We're honored to join a competitive lacrosse league in the ASUN Conference," said Golden Flashes Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen. "The ASUN is a great fit for Kent State, and we are glad to continue competing alongside a fellow MAC institution in Central Michigan. Playing in a conference is a major advantage for any new program. We hope to continue this positive momentum towards a competitive year in 2018-19."
As part of a new strategic vision, 'The Game Plan,' Kent State announced the addition of women's lacrosse in the summer of 2016. The program brings Kent State's sport total to 19, including 11 women's programs, and marked the first addition of a varsity sport at KSU since women's golf began competition in the 1998-99 academic year.
"We are thrilled that in starting a brand new program at Kent State University we can do so as a member of the ASUN Conference," said Flashes head coach Brianne Tierney. "The relationships we will develop with our conference affiliates will help us attract quality student-athletes, build a competitive schedule and allow us to grow women's lacrosse in Northeast Ohio."
The growth in the ASUN and lacrosse in general led to a new partnership with the Southern Conference, which will provide student-athletes two championship opportunities -- with both conferences sponsoring the sport beginning in 2018. Kent State becomes the latest affiliate to join this collaboration, and will participate in the ASUN Conference alongside Jacksonville, Kennesaw State, Stetson, Coastal Carolina, Howard and Old Dominion.
The Southern Conference will consist of Furman, Mercer, Wofford, Central Michigan, Detroit Mercy and Delaware State, all former ASUN affiliate members in women's lacrosse. Under the arrangement, all ASUN affiliate members will continue to have access to a women's lacrosse championship, both conferences will be NCAA AQ eligible, and cross-over scheduling allows all teams to maintain a balanced home/away schedule coordinated to minimize missed class time and travel expense.
"We are thrilled to welcome Kent State University to the ASUN as an affiliate member," said ASUN Commissioner Ted Gumbart. "The sport of women's lacrosse continues to be one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation, and Kent State is the latest example of that. The ASUN continues to be at the forefront in putting students first and providing championship opportunities for deserving student-athletes in women's lacrosse."