University of Tampa W. Lacrosse: SSC Continues Growth; Adds Women's Lacrosse Spring 2015

WINTER PARK, Fla. - The Sunshine State Conference will grow to 18 NCAA Division II sponsored sports with the addition of women's lacrosse beginning the spring of 2015. The conference is currently sponsoring its first season of men's lacrosse.

League bylaws require that half of the conference's member institutions offer a particular sport before it may become a conference-sponsored sport.

Currently, Florida Southern, Rollins, Saint Leo and Tampa are competing independently in NCAA Division II. Tampa is in its first year of competition. Florida Tech is currently in a building year and will compete for the first time in the spring of 2015.

"The Sunshine State Conference is excited to announce the addition of women's lacrosse as a sponsored sport beginning in 2015," SSC Commissioner Ed Pasque said. "We currently have successful women's lacrosse programs at some of our member institutions, and with the addition of men's lacrosse in its current season and the growth of lacrosse in the state of Florida, it will be a perfect fit for both the league office and our schools."

The nine-member conference is not only going to grow in sponsored sports during the 2014-15 season. The SSC will welcome Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as a provisional member effective July 1, 2014. The Eagles, who currently compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), accepted the provisional membership on December 11, 2013. Embry-Riddle is located in Daytona Beach, Fla.

The SSC has seen quick success with newly sponsored sports. Most recently with men's lacrosse, the University of Tampa currently ranks No. 5 in the latest United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) National Top-15 poll. Saint Leo ranked No. 15 earlier in the season, and both Florida Southern and Rollins have received votes.

In the current women's lacrosse USILA Top-15 poll, Florida Southern ranks No. 5 and Rollins is No. 9.

League administrators and women's lacrosse coaches will soon begin work on formulating policies and schedules. Something the league is familiar with the recent addition of men's lacrosse for 2014 and men's and women's swimming in 2010-11. Swimming hit the ground running.

In just its fourth year as an SSC sponsored sport, men's and women's swimming has seen plenty of national success. The Florida Southern men's team finished national runners-up for the second-straight year at the recent NCAA Division II Swimming and Diving National Championship in Geneva, Ohio. In just its fourth season as an SSC sponsored sport, swimming has claimed 12 individual national titles.

Located in Winter Park, Fla., the Sunshine State Conference is the only NCAA conference headquartered in the state of Florida. Its nine member institutions, all private schools located in the state, are: Barry University (Miami Shores), Eckerd College (St. Petersburg), Florida Southern (Lakeland), Florida Institute of Technology (Melbourne), Lynn University (Boca Raton), Nova Southeastern University (Fort Lauderdale), Rollins College (Winter Park) Saint Leo University (Saint Leo) and the University of Tampa. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, who becomes a provisional member in July 2014, is located in Daytona Beach.

The SSC currently sponsors 17 intercollegiate sports that compete in NCAA Division II. More than 2,000 student-athletes participate in men's and women's cross country, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's swimming, men's and women's golf, men's and women's tennis, men's lacrosse, baseball, softball and women's rowing.

Founded in 1975, SSC schools have won 84 Division II national championships. In 2012-13, the conference won six national titles in men's soccer, men's tennis, men's golf, women's golf, baseball and women's rowing.

SSC student-athletes are equally successful in the classroom. In January, the SSC was named the top Division II conference in Academic Success Rate for the seventh consecutive year at 86%.

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