DURHAM, N.C. – After a 34-year hiatus, the Atlantic Coast Conference will add men’s and women’s fencing as league-sanctioned sports beginning in 2014-15, ACC officials announced Friday.
Duke will join Boston College, North Carolina and Notre Dame as the four league schools that will vie for the annual ACC Men’s and Women’s Fencing Championships. The ACC head fencing coaches met with league officials and sport committee members this week to discuss the sport’s re-entry into conference championship competition.
“I thought it was kind of neat at first, just like when Boston College first joined,” said Duke head coach Alex Beguinet, who enters his 29th season in charge of the Duke men’s and women’s programs. “Then I thought about what it meant for fencing with Notre Dame joining the league, and I said, ‘Wow!’ But this will be a very, very tough competition for the ACC.”
The ACC featured fencing beginning in 1971 until discontinuing the sport after the 1980 season. Duke fencing has stayed in the national spotlight in recent years, however, boasting a three-time NCAA Champion in women’s saber Becca Ward and three NCAA top-10 finishes in the past four years. Additionally, Ward received the Mary Gerber Award in 2012 as the ACC’s top female student-athlete, becoming the first recipient to compete in a sport outside of the league’s championship certification and administration.
Duke fencing will open its final season outside of the ACC on Saturday, Jan. 11 at the Penn State Duals in University Park, Pa.