The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics is charged with identifying and managing progress of emerging sports for women. An emerging sport is a women’s sport recognized by the NCAA that is intended to help schools provide more athletics opportunities for women and more sport-sponsorship options for the institutions, and also help that sport achieve NCAA championship status.
When the NCAA adopted the recommendations of the Gender Equity Task Force in 1994, one of the recommendations was the creation of the list of emerging sports for women. Nine sports were on that first list. In the past 21 years, some have become championship sports (beach volleyball, rowing, ice hockey, water polo and bowling), while others have been added to or removed from the list. Bylaws require that emerging sports must gain championship status (minimum 40 varsity NCAA programs for individual and team sports; with the exception of Division III requiring only 28 varsity programs for team sports) within 10 years or show steady progress toward that goal to remain on the list. Institutions are allowed to use emerging sports to help meet the membership minimum sports-sponsorship requirements and, in Divisions I and II, minimum financial aid requirements.
Current NCAA emerging sports for women (and their respective organizations) include: