Women’s wrestling has been added to the NCAA’s Emerging Sports for Women program in Division I, the NCAA announced Wednesday. It was approved at the Division II and Division III level earlier this year.
Having women’s wrestling as part of the emerging sports program could convince other schools to add the sport. There are already some collegiate women’s wrestling programs.
Women’s wrestling, acrobatics and tumbling were recommended for the emerging sports program by the Committee on Women’s Athletics. The program is a pipeline supporting the advancement of women’s sports to NCAA championship status.
The program also provides athletics opportunities for women and sport-sponsorship options for colleges and universities. Schools also may use an emerging sport to help meet minimum sports-sponsorship and financial aid requirements.
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 be considered for the emerging sports program. The sport must reach 40 varsity programs to move forward to the NCAA governance structure for championship consideration.
The Wrestle Like a Girl organization, in conjunction with USA Wrestling, indicated there are 35 NCAA schools currently sponsoring the sport. Presbyterian College in Clinton, South Carolina, is only current NCAA Division I program. There are no school-sponsored teams in New England. New Jersey City University, a Division III team in New Jersey is the closest varsity program.
Since the Emerging Sports for Women program was established in 1994, five sports have earned NCAA championship status: rowing (1996); women’s ice hockey (2000); women’s water polo (2000); bowling (2003); and women’s beach volleyball (2015).
The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics is charged with identifying and managing progress of emerging sports for women.