The women’s lacrosse team, which won the National Lacrosse Conference title this past season and moves to the Atlantic Sun next season, and the women’s rowing team, which joined the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference last season both now will be eligible via the ruling.
In addition to offering up more auto-berths, the NCAA is expanding the women’s lacrosse field from 16 to 26 teams.
“We have worked hard with the NLC to build a league with an automatic bid and now with the NLC transitioning to the Atlantic Sun we see the fruits of our labor,’’ coach Mindy McCord said. “We will work hard this fall to get ready to defend our title and earn the bid to the NCAAs.’’
With the tournament in mind, McCord is putting together a schedule that will help prepare the team for a playoff run. Non-conference games against North Carolina, Duke, Florida and Vanderbilt are but a few of top echelon opponents she is trying to get on the schedule.
“We are preparing the toughest schedule possible to prepare for the run,’’ McCord said.
Rowing program director Jim Mitchell said the MAAC automatic berth opportunity, it is one of 11 conferences nationwide with the distinction, will help his squad on several levels.
“It’s huge,’’ Mitchell said. “It gives us the best chance we’ve ever had of making the NCAA championships.’’
He also believes recruiting will be helped.
“I think it’s very helpful for recruiting because young women come in and see that they have an opportunity to race at the highest level right away,’’ he said. “We wanted to be in a conference for a variety of reasons, especially a conference that cares, especially the MAAC. This this is another added bonus for being in one of those conferences.’’