The University of the District of Columbia, a Division II school in the East Coast Conference, announced Tuesday that it will add men's and women's lacrosse for the spring of 2014.

"The University of the District of Columbia is elevating its profile nationally and locally, and athletics is a large part of the university's vision," university President Allen Sessoms said. "After our first full year in the East Coast Conference, the addition of lacrosse exhibits our significant commitment to sports sponsorship criteria and to the conference. Adding men's and women's lacrosse will not only enable us to recruit quality student-athletes from the region and nationally, but it will also allow us to continue to build on the recent successes in athletics. It is an exciting time to be a Firebird!"

Lacrosse will be the fifth men's program offered at the university, as well as the eighth women's sport. The University of the District of Columbia currently sponsors 10 intercollegiate programs: men's and women's basketball, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's cross country, men's soccer, women's volleyball, and women's indoor and outdoor track. With the addition of men's and women's lacrosse, as well as women's swimming, the Firebirds will sponsor a total of 13 athletic programs. The university recently announced plans to add women's swimming.

"We are thrilled to add men's and women's lacrosse as we continue to build the University of the District of Columbia Athletic Department and the Firebird brand," athletic director Patricia Thomas said. "Lacrosse is the fastest-growing sport in the United States at the youth and high school levels. The Washington, D.C., metropolitan area is a hotbed for lacrosse, with Baltimore and Philadelphia not too far away. We feel like we can be competitive fairly quickly, and we look forward to establishing something very special with the addition of lacrosse. The East Coast Conference has a rich history of lacrosse, and we look forward to competing and becoming part of that tradition."  

A search committee will begin the process of hiring a head men's and women's coach immediately to give the respective coaching staffs adequate time to recruit student-athletes for the inaugural season in 2013-2014.

"The East Coast Conference is very excited with the prospect of the University of the District of Columbia bringing on the sports of men's and women's lacrosse," East Coast Conference commissioner Bob Dranoff said. "Our conference has enjoyed significant success in these two sports on a regional and national level for many years. The current Division II national champions, LIU Post (women) and Dowling (men) are both charter members of the ECC. We strongly believe that the addition of lacrosse at the University of the District of Columbia will not only be a great plus for the Firebird athletic program and  the ECC but for Division II lacrosse as well."