May 16, 2013 (Jackson) - Belhaven University announces the launch of Men's and Women's Track and Field beginning in the 2013-2014 academic year. Belhaven will compete on the regional and national level with the Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Belhaven University President, Dr. Roger Parrott noted that the vision to begin a track and field program had been in the works for several years but did not take flight until a substantial lead gift from Belhaven University board member David Rich and his wife Lorry allowed the University to accelerate the launch.

Parrott added that Rich, who has served on the BU Board since 2009, was quick to catch the vision for adding track to the University's 14 athletics offerings, “I had just finished laying out the plans for a future track and field program in a recent board meeting when David pulled me aside to say this was just the type of new program that he and his wife Lorry would like to help give wings to. The Rich's gift will allow us to launch a sport which will have a dramatic impact on campus, similar to our 1998 decision to launch a football program…Track and Field will be a game changer,” said Dr. Parrott.

Since the Rich's commitment, Belhaven has not only launched a national search for a head coach, but is also researching potential site and design options for a comprehensive athletics and sports complex. Until those plans are complete, Belhaven Vice President for Athletics Scott Little has developed a strategic partnership with Jackson Preparatory School to serve as an interim training location for the track and field student-athletes. As a part of the partnership, Belhaven athletes will be available to assist with Prep's Track and Field program.

Little added, “Will Crosby and the administrative leadership at Jackson Prep have been very helpful to assist us in this early stage of our program development, as they clearly understand and model the unique role of athletics in the educational development of students.”

With over 400 student-athletes, Belhaven seeks to not only develop outstanding teams, but more importantly to graduate men and woman of godly character to impact the broader sports culture. In the last three years, the University can boast conference championships and national tournament appearances in baseball, softball, men's soccer, men's and women's basketball, men's tennis, and in 2012, Belhaven achieved its second Men's Soccer National Championship. Individually, former football standout Tramaine Brock was celebrated nationally for his role on the San Francisco 49ers 2013 Super Bowl Team.