Rhode Island Athletics to add women’s lacrosse as a varsity program

KINGSTON, R.I. — December 2, 2021 — With the 50th anniversary of Title IX approaching, the Rhode Island Athletics Department has announced it will add women’s lacrosse as a varsity program.

Expected to begin competition in the Atlantic 10 during the 2024-25 season, women’s lacrosse will become the 19th varsity team and 11th women’s team at Rhode Island. It is the first varsity program to be added since women’s rowing in 1996, the year that sport became NCAA-affiliated.

The decision to add women’s lacrosse came after an internal feasibility study showed favorable economic impact along with Title IX Compliance stability for the University.

“The opportunity to provide more opportunities for our student-athletes is exciting and significant for the overall growth of the University,” Rhode Island Director of Athletics Thorr Bjorn said. “The Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 was a vital piece of law that has had a profound impact on our society. We are proud to honor the 50th anniversary of Title IX by growing women’s athletics at Rhode Island.”

According to Title IX, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

While women’s collegiate athletics is not specified in the language, it falls under the umbrella.

“It has been a tremendous pleasure to witness how dedicated our student athletes are, not only to their sport and studies, but to the entire URI community,” University President Marc Parlange said. “I look forward to welcoming women’s lacrosse to the University. It is a growing sport on campuses across the country, and I am proud that we are adding this important program to our NCAA lineup.”

Rhode Island currently offers women’s varsity programs in basketball, cross country, rowing, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, tennis, indoor and outdoor track & field, and volleyball.

On the men’s side, Rhode Island has baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, and indoor and outdoor track & field.

“With the addition of women’s lacrosse, Rhode Island will be comfortably in compliance with all standards set forth by the NCAA and Title IX,” Bjorn said. “As the profile of the University continues to shift, we had areas that needed to be addressed. With proper planning and the support of President Parlange, we worked to ensure we remain compliant moving forward through the creation of more opportunities for female student-athletes.”

While Rhode Island is not expected to compete in lacrosse for the first time until the spring of 2025, Bjorn expects to hire the program’s first head coach this summer. Additional coaches and athletics support staff will be added over the following two years.

Full details about the program’s rollout will be made public in the coming months.