HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Coker College will add men's volleyball as an intercollegiate sport for the 2012-13 academic year and women's lacrosse in the following year. The additions represent Coker's 15th and 16th NCAA Division II programs.
"As an emerging sport in Conference Carolinas and across the country, men's volleyball is an excellent fit for Coker," said Coker College President Robert Wyatt, "and judging from the enthusiastic reception that lacrosse is enjoying on campus this fall, we are confident that the women will relish the opportunity to compete in 'America's first sport.'"
"Beyond expanding our athletic program, these additions directly support our strategic growth priorities, which call for elevating institutional visibility and enriching the student experience at Coker," Wyatt added.
As part of the college announcement today, Director of Athletics Lynn Griffin said that Todd Caughlin, Coker's head women's volleyball coach, has been selected to coach the new volleyball team.
"Todd's experience in both coaching and playing men's volleyball makes him well suited to lead our program," Griffin said. Caughlin will continue to serve as the head women's volleyball coach.
As the eighth member of Conference Carolinas with a men's volleyball program – the only men's volleyball conference composed entirely of Division II members – Coker joins Barton College, Erskine College, King College, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, Mount Olive College and Pfeiffer University.
Currently, all NCAA men's volleyball teams, regardless of division, compete for a single national tournament title.
"Beginning in 2014 Conference Carolinas will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, which means that Coker will have the possibility of competing against perennial national powers such as UCLA, Penn State and Southern California in the NCAA men's volleyball tournament," added Griffin.
Caughlin has served as head coach of the Coker women's team since 2010. A native of Alberta, Canada, Caughlin came to Coker after spending the last nine years at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas. While at St. Mary's, he served as the head women's volleyball coach, leading the Rattlers to a record of 170-168 while also earning a Top 10 Southwest Regional Ranking for four straight years. To go along with his on-the-court leadership, Caughlin led his team to five straight American Vollyball Coaches Association National Team Academic Awards. In addition to being the head volleyball coach, Caughlin served as the assistant athletic director for NCAA Compliance for seven of those nine years.
"I am honored for the opportunity to coach the first men's volleyball team in Coker history," said Caughlin. "I am especially eager to get out on the recruiting trail and start building a competitive program both on the court and in the classroom."
Caughlin envisions a team made up of players from across the country, but will likely draw, in particular, from men's volleyball hotbeds like Pennsylvania, Nevada, Texas and Canada. As a former men's coach and player, he said the addition of a men's program at Coker will not only bring a new and exciting sport to the College, but it will also augment efforts to strengthen the competitiveness of Coker's women's volleyball program.
Caughlin will begin recruiting members of the newest Cobra team immediately in order to begin competition in January 2013.
Coker will become the ninth member of Conference Carolinas to have women's lacrosse. The others are Belmont Abbey College, Converse College, Erskine College, Lees-McRae College, Limestone College, Mount Olive College, Pfeiffer University and Queens University of Charlotte.
Coker will begin the search for a women's lacrosse coach in the fall of 2012.
For more information about Cobra athletics, visit www.cokercobras.com or call 843-383-8073.