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Liberty to Add Women's Lacrosse and Swimming
"We are excited to expand our department by adding these two sports to our current varsity program," said Jeff Barber. "Not only are they supported by our student body, but they are also sports that we believe will ultimately be able to compete at the national level."
The women's lacrosse program is slated to begin NCAA competition during the 2009-10 season. A coaching staff will be hired during the summer. During the 2008-09 season, the squad will compete as a club program, but will be funded by the Athletics Department.
The women's swimming program will follow a similar timeline. The squad will hire a coaching staff during the summer of 2009, compete as a club program during the 2009-10 season and gain Division I status during the 2010-11 season.
As a result of the 2007 Interests and Abilities survey, which was conducted among the Liberty University student-body during the spring, it was determined that lacrosse and swimming would be the next two programs added to the athletics department offerings. The decision to add these women's programs springs from the department's commitment to equity and its dedication to fulfilling the interests and abilities of the underrepresented gender.
The addition of the pair of programs marks Liberty's second and third sports added over the last five years. The Flames reinstated their wrestling program in 2006, following a 12-year hiatus. The program quickly regained its prior level of success, winning consecutive regional titles and sending 10 wrestlers to the NCAA National Championship over the last two years.
Since 1988, Liberty has expanded its athletics offerings six times, with five of the six sport additions being women's programs. Liberty added women's soccer in 1988 and women's tennis in 2001, while reinstating its softball program in 1994.
With the addition of women's lacrosse and women's swimming, Liberty will offer 20 athletics programs, including 10 men's and 10 women's participation opportunities for the University's student body.