Oct 122003
 
Authors: Vince Blaser

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

participation numbers.

“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 20.9.6.1 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

intercollegiate sports.”

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

department.

Women’s soccer

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

have

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.

“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.

Women’s equestrian

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

team.

“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

to nationals.

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.

Men’s baseball

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

university.”

Women’s lacrosse

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

men’s tennis.

 

 

 

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