The University of Massachusetts Amherst will no longer be the only UMass school in Division I athletics for all of its sports programs.
UMass Lowell announced on Wednesday that it will make the jump to the America East Conference starting in the 2013-14 academic year after spending the last 13 years in the Northeast-10 in Division II, according to the Boston Herald.
An official announcement will be made Thursday at 11 a.m. at the Tsongas Center.
University officials told the Boston Herald that the America East’s decision to invite UMass Lowell coincides with Boston University’s decision to move to the Patriot League in all sports next season.
“Today marks another milestone for the University of Massachusetts Lowell. … This move is testimony to the abilities and accomplishments of our student athletes, all of whom, except men’s ice hockey, compete at the Division II level, where they have enjoyed enormous success,” Chancellor Marty Meehan said in a letter to the UMass Lowell community on goriverhawks.com.
The school will begin a four-year trial period with the NCAA next season, meaning most of the programs will be ineligible to participate in postseason tournaments during that span, according to the Herald.
The decision won’t impact the school’s hockey program, though, which already competes full-time in Division I for Hockey East.
The field hockey program will only be held out of postseason eligibility for two seasons because the school was allowed to choose one women’s program to surrender two years of eligibility due to the equality laws of Title IX, according to the Herald.
UMass Lowell also plans to add men’s and women’s lacrosse in the 2014-15 academic year in order to equal the average number of athletic programs (16) at America East schools, according to the herald.
“I think every student athlete who is in Division 2 wishes somebody in Division 1 had recruited them, so I think there is going to be some motivation there,” UMass Lowell Athletic Director Dana Skinner told the Herald. “This is a long-term investment and you are going to get to be part of a growing university.”
Nick Canelas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @NickCanelas.