The Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference continues to add sports.
On Tuesday, the KCAC announced that men’s and women’s lacrosse are being added as championship sports.
The conference also announced that it has added seven schools as affiliate members, including Benedictine College (Men and Women), Clarke University (M/W), Johnson & Wales University (W), Midland University (W), Missouri Baptist College (M/W), Missouri Valley (M/W) and St. Gregory's University (M).
"The KCAC adding lacrosse shows the continued effort of our conference to serve the needs of its member institutions," Ottawa men's lacrosse coach and president of the Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association A.J. Stevens said. "Lacrosse has consistently been one of the fastest-growing sports in the country. NAIA institutions are in a great position to to help thousands of high school lacrosse players continue their career at the next level with the help of athletic scholarships to fund their education."
According to a press release, the KCAC is the third conference in the NAIA to sponsor men's and women's lacrosse, joining the Appalachian Athletic Conference and the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. The University of Saint Mary started things off for the KCAC, adding lacrosse for the 2014-15 season. In fall 2014, Ottawa University announced its intention to begin lacrosse competition in 2015-16. These two announcements led to the conference pursuing other NAIA institutions outside the KCAC to make lacrosse a championship sport within the conference.
"All of us at Johnson & Wales University would like to thank the KCAC for the opportunity to be an associate member in the sport of women's lacrosse," Director of Athletics Sandee Mott said in the press release. "The growth of the sport in Colorado and the region make it very exciting for us as we build our lacrosse program and we know that conference membership only enhances the experience we will provide our student-athletes. The KCAC will allow us to have a competitive schedule and our players will be able to earn conference honors for their performance on the field and in the classroom as well as the chance to compete for a conference championship."
Men's and women's lacrosse currently operate under "National Invitational" status that was recently approved by 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.
The KCAC sponsors championships in 18 other sports: men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, men's and women's indoor track and field, competitive cheer, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's outdoor track & field, men's and women's golf, baseball, softball, and men's and women's tennis.