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Emerging Sports for Women

The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA) 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, more sport sponsorship options for institutions and 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.

Sports do not have to be NCAA championship or emerging sports to be varsity, nor does such status mean the institution's conduct of the sport meets Office for Civil Rights or Title IX standards for varsity sports.

  • Equestrian
  • Rugby
  • Triathlon

To generate a list of schools that sponsor a particular emerging sport, click here.

Learn more about current NCAA Championship and Emerging Sports for Women:

Recent News:


For Trends in Women’s Sports Sponsorship: NCAA Sports Sponsorship and Participation Rates Report

For Trends in High School Participation visit: National Federation of State High School Associations

Other articles: