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USA Triathlon to distribute $2.6 million in grants for NCAA women’s programs

Application deadline extended to Feb. 25 for schools looking to launch varsity team.

One year after earning its status as an NCAA emerging sport for women, triathlon is receiving a significant boost to get off the ground at the college level. USA Triathlon, the sport’s governing body, has announced plans to distribute a $2.6 million multi-year grant to schools in Divisions I, II and III that are launching NCAA women’s varsity triathlon programs.

Division I schools could receive up to $140,000 over a three-year span to promote, develop, implement and grow their triathlon programs beginning in the 2015-16 season. Programs in Divisions II and III are eligible to receive up to $70,000 over the same timeframe.

Grant applications are due Feb. 25. A selection committee consisting of representatives from USA Triathlon and the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics will determine the recipients in February, and funds will be distributed in the coming months.

“We felt this initiative was just essential to the growth of the sport and creating opportunities for young women that want to be triathletes,” said USA Triathlon CEO Rob Urbach.                     

Triathlon was added as an Olympic sport in 2000 and has seen steady growth over the last decade. About 160 college campuses sponsor a USA Triathlon club team. The first-ever Collegiate Varsity Women’s Triathlon National Championship was held in November, consisting of a 750-meter open water swim, 20-kilometer bike segment and 5-kilometer run. UCLA’s Kelly Kosmo took the crown.

The sport, which combines swimming, cycling and running, was added to the list of NCAA emerging sports at the 2014 NCAA National Convention last January after 12 schools from all divisions submitted letters stating that they already sponsor or plan to sponsor triathlon. USA Triathlon has led the effort for emerging-sport status since 2010.

“We’re extremely pleased that women will have additional resources now in Divisions I, II and III to compete at the collegiate level in triathlon, one of our NCAA emerging sports that continues to evolve and generate interest,” said Tim Hall, chair of the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics and the director of athletics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

The NCAA emerging sports program, which began in 1994, helps schools provide more opportunities for female student-athletes by providing an expedited path to NCAA championship status. Emerging sports have a 10-year window to grow to at least 40 programs – 10 fewer programs than the threshold for non-emerging sports – in order to establish an official NCAA championship.

However, Urbach said USA Triathlon hopes the sport will reach full championship status well before the 10-year deadline. “This grant could be the difference maker,” he said. “This makes the decision to sponsor that much easier for schools.”

Find more information on the USA Triathlon grant and application process here.