STAUNTON, Va. -- Mary Baldwin University announced Monday that it will be adding men’s basketball to the university’s NCAA Division III athletics offerings.
“We are thrilled to add men’s basketball to the roster of Mary Baldwin Athletics programs,” said Tom Byrnes, Mary Baldwin University (MBU) Athletics Director. “Basketball is an ideal fit for our department, for MBU, and for the many fans of the game here in the Valley. We look forward to building a competitive program and creating more opportunities for student-athletes to continue their playing careers as Fighting Squirrels.”
The addition of men’s basketball continues MBU’s athletics renaissance, which has seen new sport offerings, facilities, and personnel come online over the past two years. The robust slate of athletics programs and recruitment of student-athletes support the university’s strategic initiative toward enrollment growth.
Men’s basketball is a natural fit for MBU: facilities are in place for varsity competition and for player training and support; and basketball garners both player and fan interest at the local, regional, and national level. The addition continues the momentum and enthusiasm around the sport that the MBU community experienced during last season’s record-breaking performance by the women’s basketball team.
“Athletics are a key part of the experience today’s college student wants, whether as an athlete, a fan, or both,” said Ernest Jeffries, vice president for student engagement. “Division III institutions like MBU are uniquely positioned to meet this demand, so growing our athletics offerings is a strategic extension of our commitment to deliver a well-rounded student experience.”
A detailed timeline for implementing men’s basketball has not been finalized, but is expected to track closely with timelines for other recently added programs: the university plans to begin recruiting players to join the program over the course of 2019–20, anticipating the start of club play in 2020–21. MBU aims to begin USA South Conference play in the 2021-22 season. A nationwide search for the inaugural head men’s basketball coach will launch this fall.
MBU currently offers eight women’s sports and six men’s sports. Varsity play in men’s cross country, soccer, tennis, and indoor and outdoor track and field begins this year for the 2019–20 season. MBU’s first-ever baseball program begins this year as a club sport, with varsity play slated to begin in spring 2021. The eight women’s varsity programs are: basketball, cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field, soccer, softball, tennis, and volleyball.
Founded in 1842, Mary Baldwin University is a small, coeducational university offering a range of degree programs from bachelor to doctoral. It serves a vibrant student population on its main campus in Staunton, Virginia; at its nearby health sciences campus in Augusta County; and online.