COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Triathlon, along with Alvernia University Director of Athletics and Recreation Bill Stiles, today announced that Alvernia University in Reading, Pennsylvania, will become the 37th school in the nation and the first in Pennsylvania to offer women’s triathlon at the varsity level. The NCAA Division III team will begin competing in fall 2022, and the search for a head coach will begin immediately.
“USA Triathlon is proud to welcome Alvernia University to the women’s collegiate triathlon family as our first varsity program in Pennsylvania,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “This addition is particularly exciting, as it brings us one step closer to full-fledged NCAA Championship sport status while opening up a new opportunity for student-athletes in the Northeast Region."
“I am proud to continue our strategic growth and, in particular, our pattern of providing additional athletics opportunities for women, while also purposefully expanding our recruiting opportunities in areas outside of our traditional geographic markets,” Stiles said.
The addition of women’s triathlon as Alvernia’s 32nd varsity sport is made possible through a grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation. The USA Triathlon Foundation Women’s Emerging Sport Grant is distributed to select NCAA membership institutions to develop, implement and sustain women’s triathlon programs at the varsity level.
“The addition of women’s triathlon will strengthen the existing and continuous growth of our women’s programs,” said Laura Gingrich, Associate Athletic Director at Alvernia, who spearheaded the research that went into adding triathlon at the university. “Providing an additional opportunity for female student-athletes to participate in an NCAA Emerging Sport, and being the first to sponsor triathlon in the state, demonstrates our commitment to maximize the number and variety of athletic opportunities.”
The NCAA named triathlon an Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, a designation that gives USA Triathlon a 10-year window to demonstrate the sport’s sustainability at the NCAA level by recruiting at least 40 varsity programs. The governing body is quickly approaching that goal, with momentum on its side. Five schools have added women’s triathlon since March 2020, and 37 schools have done so since 2014.
Alvernia joins five other varsity programs located in USA Triathlon’s Northeast Region: American International College (Springfield, Mass., DII); Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y., DII); Northern Vermont University (Johnson, Vt., DIII); St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y., DII); and Wagner College (Staten Island, N.Y., DI).
Women’s triathlon is a fall sport, and the varsity season includes four National Qualifiers followed by the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships, typically held in November. Races are sprint-distance, featuring a 750-meter open-water swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run. The complete 2021 Women’s Collegiate Triathlon fall schedule will be announced next week.
For more information about triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, visit usatriathlon.org/ncaa. Interested in helping to identify and recruit the next women’s varsity collegiate triathlon program? Inquiries may be directed to Tim Yount, USA Triathlon Chief Sport Development Officer, at Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women’s Varsity Collegiate Triathlon Programs (as of June 4, 2021):
NCAA Division I (9)
Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.)
Delaware State University (Dover, Del.)
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.)
Hampton University (Hampton, Va.)
Texas Christian University (Fort Worth, Texas)
University of Denver (Denver, Colo.)
University of San Francisco (San Francisco. Calif.)
University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.)
Wagner College (Staten Island, N.Y.)
NCAA Division II (15)
American International College (Springfield, Mass.)
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.)
Emmanuel College (Franklin Springs, Ga.)
King University (Bristol, Tenn.)
Lenoir-Rhyne University (Hickory, N.C.)
Montana State University Billings (Billings, Mont.)
Newberry College (Newberry, S.C.)
Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.)
St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.)
Wingate University (Wingate, N.C.)
NCAA Division III (13)
Alvernia University (Reading, Pa.)
Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Central College (Pella, Iowa)
Coe College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.)
Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va.)
Guilford College (Greensboro, N.C.)
Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.)
North Central College (Naperville, Ill.)
Northern Vermont University-Johnson (Johnson, Vt.)
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 4,000 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 at the grassroots level with athletes, coaches, and race directors — as well as the USA Triathlon Foundation — USA Triathlon provides leadership and support to elite athletes competing at international events, including World Triathlon Championships, Pan American Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Games. USA Triathlon is a proud member of World Triathlon and the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC).