Austin College Head Coach Mark Lawrence called the new Division III collegiate water polo championship “fantastic news” in an email and text exchange. The Division III Collegiate Water Polo National Championship, announced by USA Water Polo and the SCIAC on Tuesday, is an “amazing platform for the improvement of the student athlete experience and for DIII growth,” he wrote, thanking those who “headed the process.”
The ‘Roos are among nearly 20 teams that will vie for one of four spots in the tournament beginning with the men in the fall of 2019. The first women’s tournament will take place in the spring of 2020. Lawrence heads both the men’s and women’s varsity teams at Austin College.
The coach thought that the long-rumored DIII tournament would have a “positive impact on recruiting” for Austin College and other programs and was hopeful it would influence more schools to adopt the sport, adding, “I am hoping to see more collegiate programs in Texas in the future at all NCAA divisions.”
For the 2019-20 academic year the competition will be hosted by the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) after which it will rotate to different locations. Asked if Austin College had discussed hosting the tournament Lawrence said “we have not had those conversations yet,” but “DIII Nationals would be an amazing event to host.”
Austin College hosted the Brown University men in a 2018 mini tournament at Southern Methodist University’s new facility in Dallas.
The ‘Roos women open their first varsity season on Saturday in Springfield, Ohio where they will face fellow DIII teams Macalester and Wittenberg.
TXWaterpolo’s James Smith is a Volunteer Assistant Coach at Austin College.