South Florida to add women's lacrosse for 2024 season
Athletic departments announcing new programs (or in the sad case of discontinuing them) usually come out of nowhere.
On the early period for National Signing Day, where many recruits are signing NLIs with schools, this came way out of nowhere. But still great to see.
The South Florida Bulls announced Wednesday they will be adding women's lacrosse for the 2023-24 academic year. They will become the 124th Division I women's lacrosse program when they debut (considering Hartford stays at the Division I level at the time) and the seventh women's lacrosse program in the American Athletic Conference, joining Cincinnati (who is joining the Big 12 as an entire athletic department no later than July 1, 2024), East Carolina, Florida, Old Dominion, Temple, and Vanderbilt.
With Cincinnati's status in question when they move to the Big 12 (who doesn't sponsor women's lacrosse), it eliminates any fear of losing the conference's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament.
It is USF's 11th women's athletic program and the first women's program added since women's soccer was brought along in 1995. Women's lacrosse is the first addition in a planned expansion of USF's female varsity athletics offerings. Overall, it brings their sport total to 20.
"The addition of women's lacrosse as a new sport at the University of South Florida is an example of how we are committed to excellence and inclusiveness in all aspects of the university – including our athletic programs," University of South Florida Interim President Rhea Law said in a press release. "This will provide more opportunities for women student-athletes to be part of the university community and thrive."
USF's head coach search will begin in early 2022. The Bulls will play home games at Corbett Stadium, the current home of USF's soccer programs. In the press release, USF said there are "plans to move to an on-campus stadium in future seasons."
"We have a very proud and successful history of women's sports programs and female student-athletes competing at a very high level and winning championships at USF," said USF Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly. "USF is a destination for successful female collegiate athletes, and we are very excited to add a highly entertaining and growing sport in women's lacrosse. We will be very competitive both within our conference and nationally and will invest the necessary resources to be so."
Currently, USF is the only new program debuting in 2024. Pittsburgh is debuting this year, while Clemson, Eastern Michigan, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Xavier will debut in 2023.
South Florida will also be the southernmost Division I lacrosse school (men's or women's) in the country, surpassing Stetson. They will also be the fourth Florida women's lacrosse school, joining Florida, Jacksonville, and Stetson.