Mary Baldwin University, which is fielding men's varsity sports teams for the first time this fall, announced it will add men's basketball. The tentative timeline has the team joining the USA South Athletic Conference as a varsity program in 2021-22.
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Athletic Director Tom Byrnes announced the program addition on Tuesday.
"Basketball is an ideal fit for our department, for MBU, and for the many fans of the game here in the Valley," said Byrnes in the release. "We look forward to building a competitive program and creating more opportunities for student-athletes to continue their playing careers as Fighting Squirrels."
The school's release says it has not finalized its timeline for launching the program but hopes to recruit a head coach this fall, play as a club team in 2020-21 and then move to varsity status in 2021-22. Assuming no other changes, that would bring the USA South's number of men's basketball programs to 14. Mary Baldwin competes in the East Division of the Conference in women's basketball where the USA South has 18 programs.
Mary Baldwin University added its first class of male undergraduate students who live on campus in 2017 to bolster its enrollment numbers. "We cannot sustain Mary Baldwin College for Women without adding new programs and new sections of the university," a University spokeswoman told the (Staunton, Va.) News Leader at the time. "This is not an act of desperation, this is an act of innovation."
Mary Baldwin is a member of the USA South Athletic Conference for seven women's sports, including basketball. The University began competing in the Conference in soccer and cross country this fall and will tennis, indoor track and field and outdoor track and field during the 2019-20 season. Baseball will begin as a club program in the spring.