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2 sports to join Emerging Sports for Women list Aug. 1

Committee recommends adding STUNT to program

The NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program will grow by two sports this August, as acrobatics and tumbling and women’s wrestling are now approved in all three divisions. Additionally, STUNT has received a recommendation from the Committee on Women’s Athletics to join the program.

Acrobatics and tumbling and women’s wrestling were recently approved for the emerging sports program in Division I and were approved in Divisions II and III in January. Both sports will join equestrian, rugby and triathlon as emerging sports Aug. 1. Acrobatics and tumbling anticipates 30 NCAA schools will sponsor the sport in 2020-21, while women’s wrestling will be sponsored by about 35 schools.

STUNT recently received a recommendation to be added to the program. Committee members were pleased that the sport has seen a steady increase in the number of NCAA member sponsorships, is relatively inexpensive to sponsor and  provides participation opportunities for female student-athletes of all body types and from diverse sports backgrounds. Currently, nearly 20 NCAA schools sponsor varsity STUNT.

The Divisions II and III Management Councils will meet July 20-21 to consider the recommendation to add STUNT to the program. After reviewing the recommendation, each council will decide whether to sponsor a legislative proposal. If a council decides to sponsor a proposal to add STUNT, the membership of that division would vote at the 2021 NCAA Convention in January on whether to add the sport. The Division I Strategic Vision and Planning Committee did not recommend introducing STUNT as an emerging sport at this time due to budget constraints stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee can revisit discussions in the future.

The Emerging Sports for Women program was created in 1994 as a pipeline to support the advancement of women’s sports to NCAA championship status. The Committee on Women’s Athletics identifies sports to be added to the program. The program provides athletics opportunities for women and sport-sponsorship options for schools. Schools also may use an emerging sport to help meet membership minimum sports-sponsorship requirements and financial aid requirements.

A sport must have a minimum of 20 varsity teams and/or competitive club teams that have competed in a minimum of five contests to be considered for the program. The sport must be sponsored by 40 varsity programs to move forward to the NCAA governance structure for championship consideration. In the past 21 years, the following emerging sports for women have reached championship status: rowing, ice hockey, water polo, bowling and beach volleyball.