The University of Rhode Island will welcome the addition of a new Division 1 cornhole team this upcoming fall.

Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn was pleased to formally announce the new team in his press conference this Wednesday. Reporters and fans alike were confused as they expected the conference to be about the announcement of men’s basketball new head coach, but Bjorn was all smiles and ecstatic over the prospect of a competitive cornhole squad.

“This is the beginning of a new direction for collegiate athletics here at the University,” Bjorn said. “We’re excited to welcome lawn sports into the fold here, and with the addition of our new cornhole team we will be adding a top-level competitive program that can compete for championships.”

When asked about the status of the new men’s basketball coach, Bjorn declined questions and said a new coach is “not our top priority at the time,” saying he would only be taking questions about the new cornhole team.

 Cornhole will be a three-season and co-ed sport in both singles and doubles, which is the standard for Division I cornhole programs. They will compete in the Atlantic 10, which recently added cornhole to their list of varsity sports five years ago.

Part of the funding for the new cornhole team will come from the buyout of former men’s basketball coach Dan Hurley, which was announced to be $1.25 million. This will include renovating Boss Ice Arena, where the cornhole team will play during the winter season. The renovations consist of adding an addition to the arena that features new turf and bleachers.

 The cornhole team at URI has been recognized as a club sport since its inception in 1985. However, the program would achieve national success when they hired head coach Mark Augustus in 1995. Since hiring Augustus, the cornhole team has won a national championship in the 2015-16 season and has posted a winning record each year.

“This is something that is been in the works for a while,” Bjorn said. “When you have a club team that competes in the upper echelon of their conference each year and has a national championship under their belt, you have to move pieces to find room for them to compete at the highest level.”

Cornhole will play its outdoor games in the fall and spring where the outdoor track is located, which will also receive a slight renovation that includes adding bleachers. The team will also receive new boards, bags and a contract extension for Augustus that will reportedly pay $500,000 per year over the next five years. Overall, Augustus is thrilled that the program will finally make their way into the national spotlight.

“This is a dream come true,” Augustus said. “I’ve prepared my players for this moment since the first time they grabbed one of my bags. Now they’ll finally be able to throw their bags and sink it into a Division 1 national championship.”

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Sam Murray
Sam Murray is a senior at the University of Rhode Island majoring in journalism and minoring in business. Hailing from the great town of North Andover, MA, Sam lives and breathes New England sports while maintaining a sharp and vigilant eye on today’s important news around URI. Sam can also be heard on 90.3 WRIU talking about and broadcasting URI sports. You can reach Sam at samuel_murray@my.uri.edu or on Twitter @smurray1212.