As STUNT, the team sport that uses cheer skills but removes the crowd-leading aspect, begins its 13th season, it can do so having reached a milestone in its development.
On Saturday, January 14, STUNT was elevated to NCAA emerging sport status by the Division II membership at the 2023 NCAA Convention in San Antonio, Texas. It now begins the climb toward championship status.
"In order to be considered for the status of an NCAA championship, in the beginning of an academic year, an emerging sport must have 40 active institutions who have sponsored the sport at a varsity level in the previous year," notes Shay Wallach, Associate Director with the NCAA's Office of Inclusion, adding, "with the exception of Division III, who require only 28.
USA Cheer, which manages STUNT, notes that "a total of 51 colleges and universities currently offer STUNT as part of their athletic programs and organizers are excited about the growth and potential across the country."
The Great Midwest Athletic Conference (GMAC) will be conducting the first conference championship this coming April, with eight GMAC schools sponsoring STUNT, and more conferences making plans to join them in the future.
"These developments along with the great opportunity to support the female student-athlete demand for this emerging sport made the recent decision to sponsor STUNT an easy one,” noted GMAC Commissioner Tom Daeger noted. “We couldn’t imagine failing to bring this championship online considering this demand in light of the substantial growth in high school and college STUNT sponsorship.”
"This is another critical step in our development as a sport and a monumental moment for STUNT," said Lauri Harris, Executive Director of USA Cheer. "The support we have received from administrators, coaches, athletes, officials, the NCAA, and fans of STUNT has been overwhelming. Expanding the opportunities for female student-athletes at the collegiate level and furthering the great work of Title IX. We cannot thank the athletes, coaches, officials, administrators, and fans enough whom all believed in STUNT and paved the way for this moment. We're rolling up our sleeves, and now the fun work begins."
STUNT was created to meet the interests and abilities of collegiate women who want to make use of the skillset of cheer in order to compete on behalf of their school in a team-based format. The sport of STUNT has been growing across all age groups, including youth, high school and college. The potential of a national championship provides an additional incentive to potential athletes to become involved and to continue their journey in the sport.
“We expect increased participation and further program announcements as more institutions learn about STUNT and all that it has to offer. Divisions I and III will review later this year,” concluded Harris.