Emerging Sports Programs Aim to Provide More Opportunities for Women in Collegiate Athletics

A recent report from the National Collegiate Athletic Association found that women make up 46.7 percent of all student athletes in the NCAA’s Division I but lower percentages in Division II and Division III. (See earlier WIAReport post.) The report found that Division I colleges and universities spend twice as much money on men’s sports than they do on women’s sports.

One way the NCAA is trying to address inequity in college sports is through the Emerging Sports for Women program. The goal is to provide more athletics opportunities for women at the college level by increasing the number of varsity sports for women at member institutions. Since the program was enacted 23 years ago, several women’s sports that were initially classified as emerging sports have gone on to be highly successful and the NCAA now offers national championships in these sports. They include women’s competition in beach volleyball, rowing, ice hockey, water polo, and bowling.

There are currently three sports classified as emerging sports for women. They are equestrian, rugby, and triathlon. Sports that are classified as emerging have 10 years to demonstrate to the NCAA that they are sustainable. To reach this goal, at least 40 colleges or universities must field varsity teams in a given sport.

It is estimated that 11,000 women play rugby in college and that more than 300 colleges and universities have club rugby teams. For triathlon, there are 160 club teams and 22 colleges and universities have initiated varsity programs. The newest educational institution to announce it will field a triathlon team is Johnson State College in Vermont. In July 2018, the educational institution will be renamed Northern Vermont University.

Equestrian was named an emerging sport in 2002 but to date only 22 colleges and universities have varsity equestrian teams. However, college athletics directors overwhelming voted in 2016 to keep equestrian as an emerging sport.

Filed Under: Title IX

RSSComments (0)

Leave a Reply