BREAKING: Iona to add men's lacrosse as a varsity sport, will debut in 2025
For the first time since 2019, a current Division I school will be adding men's lacrosse as a varsity sport.
The Iona Gaels of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) will announce the addition of men's lacrosse as their 22nd varsity sport, according to multiple sources. The school made an official announcement later on Monday.
This will be Iona's first addition to their varsity sports portfolio since women's lacrosse, which debuted in 2005. The Gaels went 9-7 overall last season, tied for their best season in program history, and 2-6 in MAAC play.
"It is our mission to create opportunities at Iona University for students to achieve their highest potential both inside and outside of the classroom," said Iona president Seamus Carey, who also announced the addition of women's acrobatics & tumbling in a press release. "The addition of these two highly competitive and popular varsity programs will be a tremendous benefit both for our student-athletes, and also for the campus community at large."
"As Iona University continues to grow, we are very proud to offer these expanded opportunities for varsity intercollegiate competition to our students," said director of athletics Matt Glovaski. "With the Northeast and in particular Westchester County and the New York Metropolitan Area being a historical hotbed for scholastic men’s lacrosse and the rise of acrobatics & tumbling as an emerging sport for women in the NCAA, these programs will integrate themselves seamlessly into the goals and aspirations of the University."
A national search for a head coach will begin immediately. Ideally, a head coach is hired later in the fall for the upcoming November recruiting period.
Founded in 1940, Iona University is located in New Rochelle, New York and changed their name from Iona College to Iona University in July. 3,617 students are currently enrolled at the university, with 2,994 of them undergraduates. Notable alumni include singer/songwriter Don McLean, NXT wrestler Mandy Rose, former ECW wrestler Tommy Dreamer, Basketball Hall of Famer Richie Guerin, and former Rutgers football head coach and current Texas offensive coordinator Kyle Flood.
With the announcement, Iona will become at least the 76th Division I men's lacrosse program, which there currently are now. Hartford, which will reclassify to Division III beginning in 2023-24, is in their final year as a Division I school. There's also rumors that the University of Indianapolis could move up to Division I, with a potential decision in late September.
A big reason for the additions, according to Glovaski in an exclusive interview, was the recent acquisition of the 28-acre Concordia College campus in Bronxville. Iona acquired the campus in May, 2021 with their plans to develop a school of health sciences, partnering with New York Presbyterian, along with expanding opportunities in multiple areas, including athletics. Iona is currently in the process of turfing a second field on the campus with the plan to best leverage that space ongoing.
Iona's addition will bring the MAAC to potentially 11 schools for the 2025 season, 7 of them full-time members. LIU, Sacred Heart, and Wagner are on two-year deals as associate members from the NEC, while VMI is also an associate member after the SoCon also stopped sponsoring men's lacrosse prior to this upcoming year.
"With Iona University adding men's lacrosse as a varsity sport, the MAAC Men's Lacrosse League will expand even more," said MAAC Commissioner Rich Ensor in the release. "With our 10 current teams, Iona will strengthen the league and make our already competitive league even better."
Iona will also be the 18th men's Division I lacrosse program in the state of New York. They're about 20 minutes away from the campus of Manhattan College. The Gaels recently completed their first season as a club program this past spring and, according to Glovaski, will stay as a club program.
"A lot of people I spoke to were so excited because of the number of opportunities available, especially at the high school level," Glovaski said.
The last time a current Division I school added lacrosse was back in 2019, when Utah made men's lacrosse a varsity sport and St. Bonaventure reinstated men's lacrosse.
"Hopefully our news excites other schools to add," said Glovaski.