Averett University announced the addition of a varsity women's golf program, which will begin play during the 2021-22 academic year.
"We are excited to add a women's golf program, which will help us provide additional opportunities for female student-athletes," said Meg Stevens, Averett Vice President, Director of Athletics and Campus Operations. "The addition of a women's golf program here at Averett will benefit our University by reaching into a new demographic and increasing the opportunities for women to compete in college athletics, as well as positively impact our established men's golf program."
Stevens also announced that men's golf head coach Ben Potter is being named the director of golf for the men's and women's golf programs. In addition, Averett will hire a graduate assistant coach to work with both golf programs.
Women's golf is the latest sports addition for Averett in recent years. Since 2016, the University has added men's lacrosse and men's wrestling, brought back women's lacrosse and added two club sports — esports and a competitive dance team.
"We are proud to announce a sports expansion during a time when many institutions have eliminated athletics programs," Averett President Dr. Tiffany M. Franks said. "At Averett, we have focused on balancing the effects of the pandemic while continuing to look outward and stay the course with strategic enrollment growth. This addition will increase our national and international footprint, as well as demonstrates how Averett is poised to respond to the growing interest in the sport."
The women's golf program will compete within the USA South Athletic Conference, which began sponsoring women's golf in 2019-20. Averett will be the ninth institution within the conference to sponsor a women's golf program.
Potter is in his second year as the men's golf head coach after playing his final two seasons collegiately for the Cougars. Before the 2019-20 season was cut short, Potter's team played in five events and earned one team win and two individual wins. He coached the 2020 Division III Phil Mickelson Outstanding Freshman Award recipient, who also was a Golf Coaches Association of America First Team All-America and All-Region selection, a member of the GCAA All-Freshman Team, the Virginia Sports Information Directors' State Player and Rookie of the Year and the third-ranked player in the nation by GolfStat when the season was halted. Potter also led the Cougars to as high as a No. 22 national ranking by GolfStat during the 2019-20 campaign.
Potter is excited for his expanded role as the director of golf for both programs.
"I am thankful to Dr. Franks and Meg Stevens for the opportunity to build this program," Potter said. "Starting the women's golf team is a great addition to our program and is very exciting. I am personally excited to help the new student-athletes achieve their goals on and off the course. Averett golf has seen a lot of growth in the last several years, and the addition of the women's team is another amazing step forward."
The women's golf program will look to follow in the successful footsteps of Averett's men's program, which began in the 1970s. Since 2000, the Averett men's golf program has made three NCAA Tournament appearances, including winning the 2003 Division III national championship. The program has produced one individual national champion, nine All-America selections, one USA South Conference champion and four Averett Athletics Hall of Fame inductees among numerous other accolades.