The Chapman women’s lacrosse team’s transition to NCAA Division III will mean both business as usual and big changes for an upstart program that won the US Lacrosse Women’s Collegiate Lacrosse Associates (WCLA) Division II national championship last season.
The Panthers (7-2) are currently ranked No. 9 in this week’s WCLA Division I poll. Chapman moved to Division I this year after an undefeated Division II campaign in 2011. Next year it will be an NCAA Division III varsity program, as the university makes the eagerly-awaited move to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC).
“I’m excited to go Division III, but at the same time I’ve always respected club and I don’t think people give enough respect to club,” Chapman coach Brian Eisenberg said. “At Chapman, we’ve been really fortunate to have a good club experience and I’m respectful of that.”
Eisenberg said the biggest changes for the program will come in scheduling, recruiting, fundraising and the financial burden on players. They no longer will need to pay dues to play, but the team will still raise money to travel to tournaments and away games.
As a club team, Chapman has far greater flexibility in scheduling than it will once it joins the SCIAC, and the program will have to conform to NCAA rules regarding recruiting and other aspects of the sport both on and off the field.