WICHITA — The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) has announced the addition of St. Ambrose University as an associate member in men's lacrosse, KCAC Commissioner Scott Crawford revealed today.
"We are very excited about the opportunity to join the KCAC," St. Ambrose head coach Brad Keel said. "I want to thank the conference member schools and Dr. Crawford for accepting us into the league as associate members. Being part of a conference with some of the country's top teams is a huge step forward for the program and we are looking forward to competing for a bid to the National Invitational this season."
The addition of St. Ambrose brings the KCAC back to six varsity teams following the announcement earlier this spring by associate member St. Gregory's University to suspend its men's lacrosse after one season in the KCAC.
"The conference is excited about St. Ambrose joining us as an associate member in men's lacrosse in 2016-17 and forward," Crawford said. "We are very fortunate to be able to bring in a quality program of St. Ambrose's caliber and sustain our other five men's lacrosse programs for the upcoming season."
The Bees began the men's lacrosse program in the spring of 2014, joining the Division II Northwest Division of the Great Rivers Lacrosse Conference. In St. Ambrose's first season, the Bee's had an 8-8 overall and 3-1 record in the GRLC, making it to the GRLC Division II Playoffs. Last season, the Bees went 1-1 in the conference and 5-12 overall.
"We are excited and appreciative of the opportunity for our men's lacrosse program to join the KCAC Conference," St. Ambrose Athletic Director Ray Shovlain said. "The members of the KCAC are all quality academic institutions. This also provides a NAIA conference to compete. We look forward to the challenge."
Currently, men's and women's lacrosse operate under "National Invitational" status in the NAIA by virtue of establishing coaches associations and meeting the varsity sport thresholds of 25 programs nationally in both men's and women's lacrosse. Both sports will seek additional growth in varsity team numbers and can gain "National Championship" status beginning in 2017-18 should the national invitational status prove to be successful. Any consideration for national championship status must be approved by the NAIA.