COLUMN: Evaluating which women’s sport will be added
Central Michigan Athletic Director Dave Heeke will look into adding at least one women’s sport to help meet Title IX requirements of equal scholarships to men and women.
That much is certain, but let the debate begin for which sport is chosen.
In a story published Jan. 9 in Central Michigan Life, Heeke said the university will begin a year-long process to gauge which sport is the most feasible. The three Mid-American Conference women’s sports not played at CMU (golf, swimming and tennis) are the most logical, but the NCAA also requires schools to look at “emerging sports” — equestrian, sand volleyball and rugby.
It also helps if CMU is currently offering the sport as a club. Heeke said the current athletic budget of about $21 million would not be able to sustain another sport, leaving it up to the university to increase its subsidy to the department.
CM Life analyzed the possible-likely choices for additional women’s sports:
Golf: The sport is mainstream and has been around for ages, plus it’s fairly inexpensive compared to some of the other major existing women’s sports. Most high schools around the state offer golf as a sport, a vital necessity to recruiting and marketing an athletic program state-wide and regionally.
Don’t forget, the Mount Pleasant area boasts several different golf courses that would fit the needs of an NCAA team. Golf is one of the most logical choices, and I would classify it as a highly-likely.
Swimming: While this sport might also seem obvious, given the pool in the Indoor Athletic Complex, I’d put the likelihood of it happening as slim. Heeke has said swimming would require a brand new $20 million facility, complete with a regulation-sized pool.
After recent completion of the CMU Events Center and strife over faculty contracts and university spending, there is no way the university can justify spending that type of money right now.
Tennis: This is another sport likely of being adopted, given its local and regional high school participation. The installation of new tennis courts would be fairly inexpensive, and there’s plenty of room in the Events Center and athletic fields to make it happen.
Lacrosse: A wild-card many would probably like to see given it’s recent rise in popularity on the east coast, lacrosse would be fun. The sport has begun to take hold nationwide, allowing for fairly easy scheduling, but may require a significant amount of travel.
The team could use the women’s soccer field for practices and games, eliminating the need for a new facility. But the fact remains that no other MAC school sponsors the sport at a collegiate level is a turnoff, and high school participation around the state is still limited.
Equestrian, sand volleyball, rugby: While they might be considered “emerging sports” by the NCAA and CMU is required to consider them, that’s as far as it will get. No other MAC school plays any of these sports at the collegiate level, which would require CMU to find a league or play schools that require lengthy travel for each game.
CMU isn’t willing to jump to another conference for football, which in turn would be increase travel — why would it for a new sport that would likely fight for increased funding?
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