Lebanon Valley College adding women’s Division III team, moving men’s team back to D-III in ECAC West

Lebanon Valley College announced Monday that it will add women’s hockey and its men’s hockey program will return to NCAA Division III, both effective for the 2016-17 season.

On April 20, the school announced the men’s program will join the ECAC West.

“I am very excited for our program to be rejoining ECAC West,” LVC men’s coach Don Parsons said in a statement. “We have spent a lot of time and discussion on which conference would be the best fit for Lebanon Valley College and our hockey program. I believe the ECAC West is one of the strongest in NCAA Division III and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

The school, located in Annville, Pa., will begin the application process for conference membership, including exploring affiliations with new programs that may emerge regionally and within the Middle Atlantic Conference.

“These two NCAA Division III ice hockey programs will allow the college to offer an even more comprehensive and equitable intercollegiate athletic program,” said LVC president Lewis Evitts Thayne, Ph.D. in a statement “They also increase our ability to recruit internationally and bring excellent student-athletes to campus, which fits well with our strategic vision for the institution.”

Parsons will immediately begin to recruit the first class for the women’s team, while a national search will start immediately for a permanent women’s coach that will start in the summer of 2016.

The men’s program will expand its roster to include six to eight additional players.

“The addition of women’s ice hockey is a natural fit for Lebanon Valley College with our already-established hockey base,” director of athletics Rick Beard said in a statement. “With a proven winner in Coach Parsons and his extensive domestic and international relationships, now is the right time to launch our women’s program and transition the men’s team back to NCAA Division III.”

Lebanon Valley’s men’s program competed in NCAA Division III from 1998 to 2010, when it joined the American Collegiate Hockey Association’s Division I.

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