A new Division I sport is on its way to CSU and is bringing with it a lot of options.
As part of the NCAA’s new criteria for universities competing in Division I sports, CSU must add a sport by the beginning of the 2004 fall semester to remain at the D-I level. That task has fallen directly on the shoulders of University Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway and his associates.
“It’s going to be a campus-wide decision involving many people from across the university,” Hathaway said. “Everyone from athletic administration to university administration will play a part in our decision.”
The process of finding and selecting a sport has just begun for Hathaway and his associates, Hathaway said, although they do plan to narrow in on a decision by the end of this academic year.
Currently there is no clear-cut favorite among university officials. Hathaway added that the focus of the athletic administration right now is to listen to the different options hopeful sports organizations are presenting.
“I can’t say what sports we’re considering because we are not that far along in the process,” Hathaway said. “We’ve heard from many different organizations that have expressed an interest in becoming a sport.”
As with any decision that could have a university-wide effect, Hathaway said the administration would have to take into account several factors when making its decision, such as finances, regional interest, competition, facilities and, of course, the impact of Title IX.
“Title IX plays a role anytime you change your sport offerings,” Hathaway said. “Whether you increase sports or decrease sports, it’s always an issue. From an NCAA standpoint there is no requirement as to whether the (new) sport be male or female and we are looking at a wide range of sports.”
Financially, Hathaway cited the current state of the economy as a factor and concern when addressing the financial issue of adding a sport.
“Certainly there is a financial concern given the financial state of the university and the state,” he said. “Everyone is looking to preserve their current level of services and the money needs to come from somewhere.”
Regarding competition and regional interest, Hathaway said it would befit the university to select a program that would allow for ample recruiting and competing opportunities.
Furthermore, Hathaway cited the student body’s interests as a factor that also should weigh in on the administrations’ decision.
“Obviously we’re always interested in the interests of the student body,” he said. “It is one of several factors that weigh in on the decision.”
As for the student body, the interests are varied and cover a wide range of sports, from baseball and lacrosse to men and women’s soccer.
“We need a soccer team,” sophomore Donovan Donaldson said. “There is no Colorado school with Division I soccer and there are a lot of good players in this state that have to go elsewhere when they could come here.”
Other students agreed, saying that soccer’s popularity at the intramural level is a good indication of how successful it would be as a D-I sport.
“I don’t know why we don’t have a soccer team,” junior Bethany Pfohl said. “It’s such a huge sport and so many people are playing it at the intramural level. It would be really popular if they decided to add it.”
Those who said baseball is the sport of choice cited its popularity and the strong crop of high school players within the state.
“It would take four of five years to be competitive, but Colorado has a lot of talent at high school and those guys wouldn’t have to go somewhere else,” said junior Derek Jones, who also said men’s lacrosse would be a worthy addition.