LEXINGTON, Va. -- Washington and Lee University will add its 24th varsity sport — women’s intercollegiate golf — to begin competition in 2012.
Jan Hathorn, director of athletics, announced the decision to add women’s golf and also laid out a timetable for the establishment of the program. Once women’s golf begins competing on a varsity level, W&L will field an equal number of women’s (12) and men’s (12) intercollegiate sports. Women’s golf is the first team added since field hockey became a varsity sport in the 2000-01 academic year.
"This is an extremely important step for our overall athletic program, and we’re delighted we have the chance to move forward," Hathorn said. "We have wanted to add women’s golf for some time, and we received a major gift from an alumnus, Matthew Goodwin of Richmond, that has allowed us to make this a reality by providing us with operating funds to get the program underway and then to help sustain it for the next decade."
"I am honored and proud to be part of establishing the women’s golf program at Washington and Lee," said Goodwin, a member of the Class of 1994. "I have learned many life lessons through athletic competition over the years, and continue to learn such lessons today. I am happy that I can help make a difference in W&L's athletic program, so that the lives of the women players can be enriched through competition on the golf course."
"I had a great overall experience at W&L — academic, social, athletic," Goodwin added. "I am fortunate that I can give back to the university now and in the future."
The new women’s golf team will practice and compete at the Lexington Country Club where the men’s team holds its home matches and practices. W&L currently has a women’s golf club team.
According to Hathorn, the University will launch a national search for a head coach next spring and expects to hire a new coach by July 1, 2011. The head coach will then begin developing the program, establishing a recruiting plan, and creating a schedule.
In 2012, the women’s golf team would play a spring schedule as a developmental varsity team and would then enter full competition as a member of the NCAA’s Division III in the fall of 2012.
There are 168 Division III colleges sponsoring women’s golf teams, and the NCAA holds its national championship tournament in May each year.
In fact, this will actually mark the second time that Washington and Lee has fielded a women’s golf team. In the University’s very first year of coeducation, 25 years ago, W&L had women’s golf for one match. Required by the NCAA to have four women’s sports in order for any sport to qualify for NCAA national play, Washington and Lee managed to meet the qualification when Alston Parker Watt, then a freshman, agreed to compete against a male golfer from Bridgewater.
"I was not a golfer, but I decided to do it to help out," Watt has said. "W&L was trying so hard to encourage women to get on the field. They said, ‘whatever sports you want, we will give you the resources to play that sport.’ I knew that playing that match, the other sports would benefit. I played miserably."
W&L’s women sports are basketball, cross country, field hockey, lacrosse, riding, soccer, swimming, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and volleyball. The University sponsors men’s sports in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, indoor and outdoor track and field, and wrestling.