The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics has recommended that all three divisions of the NCAA governance structure add two sports — acrobatics and tumbling and women’s wrestling — to the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program. If adopted, the sports would join the program Aug. 1, 2020.
The committee identifies sports to be added to the Emerging Sports for Women program, which is a pipeline supporting the advancement of women’s sports to NCAA championship status. The program also provides athletics opportunities for women and sport-sponsorship options for colleges and universities. Schools also may use an emerging sport to help meet membership minimum sports-sponsorship requirements and financial aid requirements.
A sport must have a minimum of 20 varsity teams and/or competitive club teams that have competed in a minimum of five contests to be considered for the emerging sports program. The sport must reach 40 varsity programs to move forward to the NCAA governance structure for championship consideration.
The National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association currently has 29 NCAA colleges and universities sponsoring the sport, which is a discipline of gymnastics involving tumbling, tosses, acrobatic lifts and pyramids. The Committee on Women’s Athletics commended acrobatics and tumbling for showing how its student-athletes already were integrated fully within athletics departments; how they are enjoying experiences comparable to those of other NCAA student-athletes; and how the sport could grow.
The Wrestle Like a Girl organization, in conjunction with USA Wrestling, indicated there are 23 NCAA schools currently sponsoring the sport. The committee applauded the groups for the overall continued growth of women’s wrestling, and specifically for the potential growth of the sport at colleges and universities that currently sponsor men’s wrestling. They also noted the relatively low cost to sponsor women’s wrestling and the organizations’ commitment to increasing opportunities for a more diverse student-athlete base and to expanding coaching opportunities for women.
“On behalf of the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics, I would like to commend the leaders of both the acrobatics and tumbling and the women’s wrestling communities and thank them for their extensive work to ensure young female athletes in these sports are able to continue their participation at the collegiate level,” said Julie Cromer Peoples, committee chair and senior deputy athletics director for administration/senior woman administrator at Arkansas. “The CWA worked with representatives of both sports for several years to prepare them for advancement to NCAA emerging sport status, and we encourage all three divisions to support this expansion of opportunities for young women on NCAA campuses that choose to sponsor these sports.”
The Emerging Sports for Women program has been in existence since 1994. In the past 21 years, several sports have reached championship status, including beach volleyball, rowing, ice hockey, water polo and bowling. The program currently has three sports: equestrian, rugby and triathlon.