The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics has recommended that acrobatics and tumbling, and wrestling, be added to the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program in all divisions. If the recommendation is adopted, the sports would join the program August 1, 2020.
The emerging sports program is an NCAA pipeline that supports the advancement of women’s sports to become NCAA championship events. To be considered for the program, 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 gain eventual championship consideration, the sport much reach 40 varsity programs.
Currently there are three sports on the NCAA’s emerging list: rugby, triathlon and equestrian. The National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association has 29 NCAA colleges and universities that sponsor the sport. (Acrobatics and tumbling involves tumbling, tosses, acrobatic lifts and pyramids.) The Wrestle Like a Girl organization, in conjunction with USA Wrestling, has indicated there are 23 NCAA schools currently sponsoring the sport.
“On behalf of the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics, I would like to commend the leaders of both the acrobatics and tumbling and the women’s wrestling communities and thank them for their extensive work to ensure young female athletes in these sports are able to continue their participation at the collegiate level,” said Julie Cromer Peoples, committee chair and senior deputy athletics director for administration/senior woman administrator at Arkansas. “The CWA worked with representatives of both sports for several years to prepare them for advancement to NCAA emerging sport status, and we encourage all three divisions to support this expansion of opportunities for young women on NCAA campuses that choose to sponsor these sports.”
The NCAA adopted its emerging sports program in 1994. Since then, several have reached varsity status: beach volleyball, rowing, ice hockey, water polo and bowling.
Rich Bender, executive director for USA Wrestling, described the NCAA move as a “great day for wrestling.” “The recommendation from the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics could impact the lives of thousands of women student-athlete wrestlers for generations to come,” he said. “We thank the efforts of all the wrestling organizations who have led the charge seeking emerging sport status. USA Wrestling is fully committed to supporting wrestling for women and girls at all levels and is excited about the future. We are encouraged by today’s decision, and fully expect it to help accelerate the growth of women’s wrestling.”