The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics this month released new guidelines for a program designed to increase athletics opportunities for women through NCAA-recognized emerging sports.
The NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program was created in 1994 to provide a fast track for eligible women’s sports to become full-fledged NCAA championship events. An emerging sport has a decade to grow to 40 varsity programs in order to reach championship status.
The Committee on Women’s Athletics, which oversees the Emerging Sports for Women program, recently completed a comprehensive review of the program and identified a need for improved guidelines. The committee manages the process by which sports can apply and can recommend sports to be added or removed from the program. NCAA members, through each division’s governance structure, ultimately determine which sports receive “emerging” status.
“We realized that maybe there’s something the Committee on Women’s Athletics could do that would be more proactive in offering guidance and objectivity to this program,” said Julie Soriero, the director of athletics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and chair of the committee.
The committee worked to develop a process guide to assist leaders of current and future emerging sports. The new guide clearly defines the program and the standards that are required for a sport to be recognized as an emerging sport. It also includes timelines for submitting an emerging sport proposal and establishes a process for the ongoing review and management of sports that have been accepted into the program.
Since the inception of the emerging sport program, five women’s sports have reached NCAA championship status: rowing, ice hockey, water polo, bowling and beach volleyball. Three others – triathlon, rugby and equestrian – remain in the process.
The new program guidelines can be found here.