GEOFF SMITH

Assistant Sports Editor

BENNINGTON -- Southern Vermont College announced thursday that the school will add an NCAA Division III women’s lacrosse and a junior varsity men’s basketball programs starting in the 2014-2015 school year.

Women’s lacrosse will bring the total number of varsity sports offered at the school to 11.

"Women’s lacrosse will create athletic opportunities for female students, consistent with our nation’s effort to give real meaning to Title IX," SVC President Karen Gross said in a statement.

Athletic Director Michael McDonough said in an interview Thursday that "we are very excited, number one, about being able to take this step. It is always good to be growing. We are very confident that this will help to grow our women’s brand here at Southern Vermont.

"We are excited about women’s lacrosse as a sport. It is a very fast growing sport... you see that throughout the state of Vermont. Our whole region has really taken up the sport over the past 10 years."

As with the other programs offered by the school, the women’s lacrosse team will join the New England Collegiate Conference. Other schools in the conference for women’s lacrosse include Bay Path College, Becker College, Daniel Webster College, Elms College, Mitchell College, Regis College and Wheelock College.

The last athletic addition at SVC was men’s volleyball, which was added in 2006.

Asked about the idea of a men’s team being added in the future, McDonough noted that the idea has been entertained, but is still a ways from fruition.

"I think as one grows and expands, you like to do it within your capabilities," McDonough said. "There is no further timetable for expansion, but it would be natural in the future to add the male counterpart to the sports. But there are other sports opportunities for us to consider, as well."

A search is ongoing for a coach to lead the program.

In addition to the women’s lacrosse team, SVC will also offer a junior varsity men’s basketball team to help further the growth of the Mountaineers’ program.

Reached by phone on Thursday, basketball coach Dan Engelstad said that the JV team will open up new opportunities for the program.

"We are really excited at the fact that we are going to get a JV team. This will help our program in many facets."

"I think we have been talking about that for some time, and coach Engelstad was a promoter and a supporter for the possibility of being able to have access to a JV program," McDonough said.

According to McDonough, SVC is the only team in the NECC that would offer a JV program. The schedule for the team would consist of junior colleges, prep schools, and other full-time D-III schools with JV offerings.