COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Triathlon, the fastest growing sport in the U.S. Olympic Movement, received overwhelming approval today from the NCAA Division I Legislative Council to be the next Emerging Sport for Women, creating new opportunities within the Olympic pipeline for student-athletes.
The vote was 95 percent in favor as announced during the council's session as part of the 2014 NCAA Convention in San Diego, Calif. Division II and III schools will also be voting on triathlon's Emerging Sport status later this week. Triathlon will be added as a fall sport, and athletic departments will be able to form teams and compete at the varsity level beginning in August 2014.
"Today is a watershed moment for the sport," said Rob Urbach, USA Triathlon CEO. "After four years of hard work behind the scenes, this announcement represents a huge victory for current and future student-athletes, for the NCAA member institutions that will operate varsity triathlon programs, and for USA Triathlon's future Olympic success."
"I'd like to personally thank Karen Morrison, Chair of the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics, as well as everyone else who dedicated their time and talents to this cause."
Triathlon offers an exciting competition event model featuring draft-legal cycling, a format used in the Olympic Games and International Triathlon Union (ITU) competition. As an NCAA sport, triathlon will create revenue-generating opportunities and foster community relations, with the option for institutions to host varsity competitions and include race options for the general public.
An emerging sport is a sport recognized by the NCAA that is intended to explore new sports and grow participation opportunities for female student-athletes. Institutions are allowed to use emerging sports to help meet the NCAA minimum sports sponsorship requirements, minimum financial aid award requirements, and gender equity standards. Four former emerging sports have grown in sponsorship and been approved as NCAA championship sports - water polo, bowling, ice hockey and rowing.
USA Triathlon has led the effort to include triathlon as an NCAA sport since 2010. Nearly 200 schools currently have club triathlon programs and USA Triathlon has held Collegiate National Championships since 1992. Triathlon was added to the Olympic program in 1994 and made its debut at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.