Wellesley Golf Joins Liberty League as Associate Member

TROY, N.Y. – Liberty League Commissioner Tracy King has announced that Mount Holyoke College, New York University and Wellesley College have accepted invitations to join the league as associate members in golf. NYU will participate in both men's and women's golf while Mount Holyoke and Wellesley will become women's golf members.

"The Liberty League is thrilled to welcome Mount Holyoke College, New York University and Wellesley College as associate members in golf," said King. "When exploring opportunities to enhance our membership, it was important for our members to align with like-minded institutions. We believe that Mount Holyoke, NYU and Wellesley share our commitment to excellence in both academics and athletics. This is a great opportunity for our golf student-athletes."

Starting with the 2012-13 academic year, the Liberty League will begin sponsoring women's golf as a championship sport. The addition of women's golf gives the Liberty League 26 championship sports – 13 for both women and men.

"We look forward to these three outstanding institutions joining the Liberty League," commented Deb Steward, President of the Liberty League and Director of Athletics at William Smith College. "In this 40th anniversary of Title IX, it is fitting that we expand opportunities for our golfers and that both our men and women have the opportunity to compete for a League golf championship and an NCAA Division III championship."

Now in it's 10th year as a varsity program, the Wellesley College golf team has had success on the national scene, most recently boasting the 2011 Division III Player of the Year in Kimberly Eaton '11. The Blue, under the guidance of Sherry Makerney, compete a full fall and spring schedule, culminating in the NCAA Division III Championships in May. 

"Having played as an independent team, we were missing the regional leadership opportunities,  academic and performance based recognition, and camaraderie that come from being championed by a conference or league," explained Makerney. "By joining the Liberty League we increase our opportunity to win a conference/league championship leading to an invitation to play in the NCAA National Championships. We'll have new goals and opportunities within the Liberty League and will work even harder knowing Nationals is well within our reach."

"We are thrilled to begin associate membership with the Liberty League in the sport of golf and the opportunities it will afford our golf student-athletes," said Bridget Belgiovine, Wellesley Director of Athletics. "Our affiliation with an outstanding group of institutions will provide continued quality competitive experiences for our athletes and enhance those with valuable opportunities for team and individual recognition that they have not had."

Four current Liberty League members sponsor women's golf as an intercollegiate sport – St. Lawrence University, Union College, Vassar College and William Smith College. The addition of Mount Holyoke, NYU and Wellesley will give the Liberty League seven members that sponsor women's golf, the number needed in order to qualify for an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. The Liberty League will be required to serve a two-year waiting period before receiving an NCAA bid. The league anticipates receiving an automatic bid in 2014-15.

Last September, Union College announced that it would begin sponsoring women's golf as an intercollegiate sport beginning in 2012-13. With a minimum of four participating teams required in order to conduct a Liberty League championship, the addition of Union and the three new associate members will enable the league to sponsor a women's golf championship for the first time.

An NCAA Division III member conference, the Liberty League is comprised of 10 full members – Bard College, Clarkson University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, University of Rochester, Rochester Institute of Technology, Skidmore College, St. Lawrence University, Vassar College and Union College. Springfield College, the United States Merchant Marine Academy and Worcester Polytechnic Institute are associate members in football.