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The McMurry University men’s and women’s track and field programs have been accepted as affiliate members of the Lone Star Conference and will compete immediately in both the indoor and outdoor championships in 2014, it was announced by the league office today. It is the first NCAA Division II league membership for the War Hawks’ track and field teams.

The McMurry athletics program is in year-two of the transition process to NCAA Division II from NCAA III.

McMurry will be eligible to compete for the LSC championship and individual honors immediately. McMurry competes in the Heartland Conference – which does not sponsor track and field as a conference sport – in most of its other athletics programs (except for swimming and football). However, because the school is still not a full NCAA II member yet, it cannot send competitors to the NCAA championships or be eligible for Heartland Conference championships. (It was announced earlier this year that the McMurry football program would also be joining the Lone Star Conference beginning in the fall of 2014).

Last season, McMurry’s track and field programs competed in the National Christian College Athletic Association championships.

In the 14 season competing as an NCAA Division III program (1999-2012) following the reinstatement of the track program on the McMurry campus, the War Hawks’ men’s team won 14-consecutive American Southwest Conference championships and brought home the school’s only NCAA titles in its history in 2008 and 2012. The women’s squad earned 10 ASC crowns in 14 seasons and was the national runner-up in 2002.

McMurry has a combined total of nine top-4 national finishes between its programs.

During that time, McMurry head coach Barbara Crousen was named the ASC’s men’s Coach of the Year all 14 seasons and was named the women’s ASC Coach of the Year 10 times.

In 2012, Crousen received the nation’s highest honor for the second time when she was named as the Men’s National Coach of the Year for NCAA Division III. She was also named the men’s NCAA III South/Southeast Region Coach of the Year, marking the ninth time she has earned that honor.

Crousen earned NCAA Division III Women’s National Coach of the Year in 2001, as well. The women’s program finished fourth overall at the national outdoor meet in 2001.

Crousen also holds the distinction of being the first-ever female – in any sport and at any level – to coach a men’s team to an NCAA national championship (when she won the men’s outdoor title in 2008).

Crousen sees the move as a natural progression for the program.

”The McMurry track team is known for making history,” Crousen said. “Now we will be the first of McMurry’s athletics teams to be able to officially compete for an NCAA II conference title when we step into the arena of the Lone Star Conference. For 15 seasons, we have competed against NCAA Division II – and Division I – teams anyway. Now we will be able to see how we rank when we actually keep score.

“I know the student-athletes and staff are all excited about the prospects of being a part of a competitive conference like the Lone Star.”

244 all-America honors have been passed out to McMurry athletes since the program re-started in 1999, including 29 alone in 2012. 24 McMurry student-athletes have earned national academic honors and 61 national champions have been crowned between indoor and outdoor competitions. McMurry also produced the NCAA III South Region Athlete of the Year 15 times, including four-time winner Hann Ollison (2006-09) and two-time recipient Kevin Cunningham (2011 & 2012).

Darcell Edwards, who may be the most prolific female athlete to compete in McMurry’s track and field program, won six individual national championships. Edwards still holds the NCAA Division III outdoor record for the triple jump with a mark of 44 feet and two inches that she set in 2004. Edwards qualified for the 2004 Olympic Trials in the triple jump.

On the league level, McMurry’s track and field program has produced more than 200 conference champions, better than 200 additional all-conference finishers and 100-plus academic all-conference honorees.

Most recently, McMurry shot putter Paul Davis – a senior in 2014 – had a school-record effort of 69’ 0 3/4” and also placed fifth in the nation at the USA Outdoor Track & Field National Championships in 2013.

This is McMurry’s second time with the LSC, after holding full membership in the league for eight athletic seasons and competing in the 1965-72 conference track meets.