Decatur, GA – Agnes Scott College will reclassify women's lacrosse from a varsity sport to a club sport and will reinstate the cross country program from club status to varsity status effective immediately.
"This was not an easy decision to make, but we believe it is not only in the best interest of our athletic program overall, but will help us press the 'pause' button on lacrosse and bring it back in the future once we have the ingredients in place to position it for success," said Elizabeth Kiss, president of Agnes Scott.
Kiss noted that the decision was made following an external strategic review of the college's athletics program. The review noted three areas requiring improvement to support a lacrosse team at Agnes Scott: enhanced facilities, an experienced coach and the time to recruit talented student-athletes.
The Scotties have struggled to fill the lacrosse roster for the past few seasons. Fortunately, other athletes stepped in to help fill the roster, but with the head coach abruptly resigning one week before the season, no incoming recruits and only eight players expected to return next season, reclassifying the program became the best option.
"At a time when we are experiencing great success in recruiting for our five other varsity teams, lacrosse has been a struggle," Kiss said. "We know it is the fastest growing women's sport in the south, and we remain committed to fielding a varsity lacrosse team again in the future."
While the college's five other sports are members of the Great South Athletic Conference, the lacrosse team was an affiliate member of the USA South Conference.
"This is a tough decision but one that was made in the best interest of the entire athletic department. Although it affects our affiliated membership with USA South, we also feel it is in the best interest of the USA South Conference for us to reclassify lacrosse at this point," said Joeleen Akin, director of athletics. "We want to be competitive in all our sports with healthy rosters and success in recruiting. Unfortunately with lacrosse we have not been able to live up to our expectations."
Agnes Scott's five other varsity sports – basketball, soccer, softball, tennis and volleyball – have garnered a total of six conference championships in the last five years.
Along with the reclassification of lacrosse, Akin said the college will reinstate cross country as a varsity sport beginning in the fall of 2014. Agnes Scott reclassified the women's cross country program from a varsity sport to a club sport in 2008, in order to reallocate funds to other varsity sports with larger rosters.
"We are excited to bring cross country back," said Akin. "While small, our cross country team was quite successful in the past. Now, with enhanced fitness facilities on our campus and more interest in running among our students, we are confident we can find good runners to field a strong team."
Leading the cross country team will be former head coach and current sports information director Mary Chind. Chind coached the team to a first place finish in the 2007 GSAC Championships and was named 2007 GSAC Coach of the Year. Chind graduated from Georgia Tech, where she was a top member of the cross country and track teams, finishing as their top runner at the 2004 ACC Championships and at the 2004 NCAA Regional. She was also a three-time member of the ACC All-Academic Team. Chind has completed a total of 13 marathons and numerous 5k, 10k and half-marathon races. Among her running accomplishments are several top 10 finishes, including a second-place finish at the 2012 Publix Georgia Marathon, a personal best of 2:59:23 and a top-20 finish in the 2012 Grandma's Marathon in Duluth, Minn., and a 26th-place finish out of 1,197 women in the 2007 Peachtree Road Race 10k with a time of 36:43. Chind has also been a volunteer coach for the Atlanta Track Club's Marathon training program for the past three years.
Recruiting for the cross country team will begin immediately.