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Willamette University Becomes First School in Pacific Northwest to Add Women’s Triathlon as a Varsity Sport

By USA Triathlon | April 30, 2018, 6:21 p.m. (ET)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon today announced Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, as the first school in the Pacific Northwest and the 23rd in the nation to offer women’s triathlon as a varsity sport. The NCAA Division III team will begin competing in the fall of 2021.

Deemed an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, triathlon has a 10-year window to demonstrate sustainability as an NCAA sport option. USA Triathlon is more than halfway to its goal of recruiting 40 schools by 2024 to earn full-fledged Championship sport status, as nine new programs have been announced since October of 2017. 

In addition to being the first varsity women’s triathlon program in the state of Oregon, Willamette joins the University of San Francisco (NCAA Division I) as the second school on the West Coast to offer the sport. Eight other NCAA Division III universities across the nation offer the sport as part of their varsity portfolios. 

“With the NCAA women’s triathlon movement now heading west, we look forward to offering potential student-athletes in this region another opportunity to compete at the varsity level,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “The addition of triathlon to Willamette’s varsity offerings was made possible thanks to leaders within the athletic department and the school as whole. I am confident the Bearcats will recruit a talented group of young women to compete in their inaugural season.”

“This is a natural fit for Oregon and the Pacific Northwest,” said Rob Passage, Willamette’s Director of Intercollegiate Athletics. “We appreciate the support of USA Triathlon, which assists colleges offering triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women.”

Willamette plans to hire a head coach during the 2019-2020 academic year and field a team starting in 2021. Women’s triathlon is a fall sport, and the varsity season includes three regional qualifiers followed by the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championship. Athletes race over sprint-distance courses covering a 750-meter open water swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike, and 5-kilometer run.

For more information about triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, visit For questions regarding varsity collegiate women’s triathlon events and programming, contact Jessica Welk at

Varsity Collegiate Triathlon Programs as of April 30, 2018:

NCAA Division I 

Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.)
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.)
University of San Francisco (San Francisco, Calif.)
University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.)
Wagner College (Staten Island, N.Y.)

NCAA Division II
Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C.)
Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D.)
Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, Colo.)
Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.)
Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, W.V.)
Drury University (Springfield, Mo.)
St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.)
Southern Wesleyan University (Central, S.C.)
University of West Alabama (Livingston, Ala.)

NCAA Division III
Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.)
Johnson State College (Johnson, Vt.)
Marymount University (Arlington, Va.)
Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.)
Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, Wis.)
North Central College (Naperville, Ill.)
Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.)
Trine University (Angola, Ind.)
Willamette University (Salem, Ore.)

About USA Triathlon
USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Founded in 1982, USA Triathlon sanctions more than 4,300 events and connects with more than 400,000 members each year, making it the largest multisport organization in the world. In addition to its work with athletes, coaches, and race directors on the grassroots level, USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including International Triathlon Union (ITU) World Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of the ITU and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC).