CSU must add another varsity sport by Aug. 1, and, with Title IX
compliance to consider, it will most likely be a women’s sport.
The athletic department has narrowed its search for a new sport
to four finalists that they will not disclose. The NCAA has
mandated that programs competing in Division I-A football have 16
varsity sports at the start of next fall’s season.
“It’s likely we are going to add a women’s sport,” said Mark
Driscoll, CSU director of athletics. “We want to impact the other
15 sports as minimally as possible.”
According to the NCAA Web site, Title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1972 “is a Federal statute that was created to
prohibit sex discrimination in education programs that receive
Federal financial assistance.”
The CSU softball team won a lawsuit against the university in
1992, claiming Title IX violations after CSU ended varsity
softball. The team was reinstated.
Driscoll said that while the new sport will most likely be
women’s, it would be possible for CSU to add another men’s sport
and that not all the finalists are women’s.
He said no timeline has been set for naming the sport, but the
decision would be made “sooner rather than later.”
“We have provided some information to (candidates) and we’re
waiting for some feedback,” Driscoll said.
The athletic department has laid out four major criteria for
selecting the new sport, he said. They are: meeting the NCAA
requirements, maintaining gender equity in participation numbers,
being as competitive as possible and having as little financial
effect on the department and other sports as possible.
Associate athletic director Marsha Smeltzer heads the research
on adding the new sport. Smeltzer said one of the largest tasks
facing the department is projecting what impact the sport would
have in the future by looking at enrollment trends and
“The addition of any sport is going to have some effect (on
other sports),” Smeltzer said. “If we did not have to add (another
sport) at this time, we wouldn’t have.”
The NCAA passed the requirement with bylaw 126.96.36.199 on March 25,
2002. It says that Division I-A institution “shall sponsor a
minimum of 16 varsity intercollegiate sports, including football
… including a minimum of six sports involving all-male teams or
mixed teams of males and females, and a minimum of eight varsity
CSU has six men’s varsity teams (football, basketball, cross
country, golf, track and field) and nine women’s teams (volleyball,
softball, basketball, cross country, golf, swimming and diving,
tennis, track and field). Smeltzer said the athletic department is
trying to get to the point where they know as much about each of
the finalists as they do the varsity sports.
Every CSU varsity team competes in the Mountain West Conference,
but Smeltzer said not every finalist sport is played in the MWC.
She also said not all are a club sport.
Here is a look at some of the potential candidates.
Editor’s Note: The CSU athletic department has not disclosed the
four finalists for a new varsity sport it must add by Aug. 1.
Collegian reporter Vince Blaser reviews some of the potential
candidates for the new sport below. It is by no means a complete
list and is not affiliated with any statements from the athletic
Soccer is the only women’s sport played in the MWC that CSU
doesn’t participate in. The 287 Division I teams nationally are
also more than any other non-varsity sport at CSU.
“We are one of the few schools in our conference that doesn’t
a NCAA team,” said Elizabeth Eberly, vice president for the
women’s soccer club team, in an e-mail interview. “I think we could
be very competitive if we were to join (the MWC) and in a few years
we could make a name for ourselves.”
Eberly said women’s soccer is one of the fastest growing sports
in the country and CSU would have a strong recruiting base in
“Colorado is a hotbed for girl’s soccer,” she said. “We
currently have a strong club program and have been competitive
against in-state teams as well as out-of-state teams.”
The women’s soccer gold team has won the National Intramural
Recreational Sports Association national tournament three out of
the last six years.
CSU has the largest equine sciences department in the United
States, and a highly competitive equestrian team.
The team is co-ed, but the vast majority of the 150 members are
women, said Anna Morrison, president of the CSU equestrian
“CSU has traditionally been an agricultural college,” Morrison
said. “We could take the equine sciences program so much farther if
we had an NCAA team.”
Only 12 schools compete in Division I equestrian. The NCAA
classifies it as an emerging sport for women.
Morrison said the team is highly competitive with teams in
Division I as well as other non-varsity teams. She said around 500
universities around the country compete in the Intercollegiate
Horse Show Association. CSU has won regional titles and sent riders
Another advantage is that the team already has the facilities
needed at the equine sciences center and would not need to share
any resources with the other sports, Morrison said.
While men’s baseball is not as likely a candidate because of
gender participation numbers, it was a varsity sport at CSU until
1993, when CSU cut its funding.
Jackie Sheppard, public relations director for the baseball club
team, said in an e-mail interview that the only changes that would
need to be made if baseball went D-1 would be to add more bleacher
seats. Baseball is a MWC sport.
She also said the team could be highly competitive and has good
support from the community.
“Fort Collins seems to be a very baseball friendly community,”
Sheppard said. “We have already worked with the community doing
various baseball programs and putting baseball back at varsity
level will definitely bring more fans to the stands.”
Sheppard said does not oppose any other sport becoming varsity,
but baseball could attract revenue and attention to CSU.
“We already are a well-known baseball club,” she said. “By being
varsity again we could bring a lot more publicity to the
Like soccer, women’s lacrosse is a fast-growing sport and one
that the CSU club team is very competitive at.
“The level of talent on this team is getting better and better,”
said Jen Gunlikson, president of the women’s lacrosse club team. “I
believe we have the most dramatically growing sport right now.”
Lacrosse is not played in the MWC and the women’s lacrosse team
would have to join an independent league.
Gunlikson, who passed up a scholarship to play lacrosse at
Denver University, said it would take some work but that the team
could be competitive soon in Division I. The team was first in the
state last year and shoots for nationals this season.
Gunlikson also said adequate lacrosse fields already exist on
campus and not many changes would be needed.
Other possible candidates include: men’s ice hockey, women’s
gymnastics, men’s and women’s water polo, men’s lacrosse, men’s and
women’s rifle, men’s soccer, men’s swimming and diving, men’s
volleyball, women’s field hockey, men’s and women’s skiing and