University of Pittsburgh Director of Athletics Heather Lyke announced that Pitt Athletics will add women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport. The program will play its inaugural season against NCAA Division I competition in the 2021-22 academic year.
Pitt will be the ninth Atlantic Coast Conference institution to sponsor the sport at the NCAA Division I level. The program will be fully funded with the NCAA maximum of 12 scholarships and play its games at the Petersen Sports Complex.
“On behalf of our University and Department of Athletics, we are extremely excited to announce the addition of women’s lacrosse as a Division I sport at Pitt,” said Lyke, who in 2014 chaired the NCAA Men’s Lacrosse Committee. “We are grateful for the support of our Board of Trustees and Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. Their belief in the vision and future of Pitt Athletics has been vital.
“We believe our program will be highly attractive to outstanding prospective student-athletes as well as talented coaches who aspire to compete at the highest level in the nation’s top lacrosse conference. The breadth of exceptional talent here in Pennsylvania will be a major recruiting asset for our new coaching staff.”
Coming in 2021-22…
Pitt Women's Lacrosse
— Pitt Athletics (@Pitt_ATHLETICS) November 1, 2018
Lyke will hire the first women’s lacrosse head coach in Pitt history following the conclusion of next year’s NCAA Women’s Lacrosse National Championship, played in Baltimore, Md., on May 26, 2019.
Lacrosse is one of the fastest growing team sports in America. At the NCAA level, individual participation in women’s lacrosse increased by more than 24 percent from 2011-16. During that same time period, collegiate sponsorship of the sport grew by more than 35 percent.
As an ACC member, Pitt will be competing in the most accomplished women’s lacrosse conference in the country. An ACC program has played in the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse National Championship game in each of the past seven seasons. During the 2018 season, five ACC teams appeared in the final Inside Lacrosse Top 20 national rankings while six student-athletes were named first-team All-Americans.
“The collection of ACC women’s lacrosse programs is extremely prestigious and we are pleased to have Pitt joining this elite group beginning with the 2021-22 season,” ACC Commissioner John Swofford said. “The sport of women’s lacrosse continues to experience positive growth, which directly creates additional opportunities for prospective student-athletes. This announcement is a win for Pitt, the ACC and our future student-athletes.”
The ACC Network, set to launch with a linear channel in August 2019, will prominently feature women’s lacrosse with a variety of programming specifically dedicated to the sport.
It has been more than two decades since Pitt last added a varsity sport. The University instituted women’s softball in 1997-98.