Breaking: With 40 College Programs, Women’s Triathlon Has Championship Eligibility | Sports Destination Management

Breaking: With 40 College Programs, Women’s Triathlon Has Championship Eligibility

Feb 14, 2022 | By: Mary Helen Sprecher, Michael Popke
Photo courtesy of Wagner Araujo; previously supplied by USA Triathlon for use in Sports Destination Management’s May/June 2021 issue

USA Triathlon, along with Cal Poly Humboldt’s Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and Campus Recreation Cooper Jones, today announced that Cal Poly Humboldt in Arcata, California, will become the 40th school in the nation to offer women’s triathlon at the varsity level. The NCAA Division II team will begin competing in fall 2022.

The commitment by Humboldt to become the 40th school is an important milestone in triathlon’s journey to becoming an NCAA Championship sport. Deemed an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, triathlon has now met the 10-year window to demonstrate sustainability and success at the NCAA varsity level. Triathlon has a few more steps to take on its way to being fully managed by the NCAA as a championship event, including committee, council, divisional and budget approvals.

“This is a monumental moment for not only Cal Poly Humboldt and the sport of triathlon, but also for women’s sports,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “It’s fitting we’ve hit this milestone on the 50th anniversary of Title IX as this sends a resounding message across the country that women’s sports are thriving.”

Humboldt becomes the 17th Division II institution in the country to add women's triathlon as a varsity sport, and the second in the California, joining the University of San Francisco.

“Cal Poly Humboldt is ecstatic to welcome triathlon to our campus as the 12th NCAA varsity sport,” said Jones. “We’re thrilled to announce triathlon as our newest sport, one which we believe will be successful in the very near future. I look forward to doing our part to grow the sport both regionally and nationally.”

Humboldt’s addition of women's triathlon was made possible through a grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation as well as a donation from the IRONMAN 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.

“Getting to this point has been a 13-year process with contributions from so many,” said Tim Yount, USA Triathlon Chief Sport Development Officer. “Throughout this process Cal Poly Humboldt has shown their dedication to not only supporting a triathlon program but also investing in its continued success.”

Women’s triathlon is a fall sport, and the varsity season includes National Qualifiers followed by the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships, typically held in November. The draft-legal races are sprint-distance, featuring a 750-meter open-water swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run.

So what can this mean nationwide? It can all add up to increased economic impact for the destinations that embrace the program, and the planners who work with colleges and event owners to put on championships – or who create special registration categories for college students or college teams.

As a case study, USA Triathlon reported to SDM that at its April 2017 USA Triathlon Collegiate Club and High School National Championships in Tuscaloosa, almost 98 percent of participants used lodging, resulting in close to $1 million economic impact in that area. The total economic impact (including the lodging figure plus shopping, attractions, dining, rental cars and more) came to more than $2.1 million. Tuscaloosa hosted the 2018 championships as well.

Men’s Programs
While the women’s triathlon is the side receiving the most support presently, expect collegiate men’s triathlon to be a wave of the future as well. USA Triathlon is keeping its focus on the women’s effort until the sport is fully successful and firmly positioned at the NCAA level for women. In the meantime, destinations and event owners can expect to see collegiate men’s participation at the club level.

The projection is for college multisport to continue its rise. Working to attract this demographic early and promoting opportunities for students to register can help create the reputation of a student-friendly event that continues to grow and create positive returns. SDM will continue to follow the development of the issue – and of the sport.

For more information about triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport for Women, visit this link.

Women’s Varsity Collegiate Triathlon Programs (as of Feb. 16, 2022):

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 (17)
American International College (Springfield, Mass.)
Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C.)
Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D.)
Cal Poly Humboldt (Arcata, Calif.)
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.)
Lake Superior State University (Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.)
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 (14)
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.)
Greensboro College (Greensboro, N.C.)
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.)

California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt (or Cal Poly Humboldt), is one of just three polytechnic universities in the California State University system and is the northernmost campus of the 23-school California State University (CSU) system. The main campus, located in coastal Arcata and situated hillside at the edge of the redwood forest, has commanding views overlooking Humboldt Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

The university is divided into three colleges: the College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences; the College of Natural Resources & Sciences; and the College of Professional Studies. It offers 48 types of bachelor's degrees, 12 different master's degrees, 61 minors, and 13 credential programs.

The Cal Poly Humboldt Lumberjacks participate at the NCAA Division II level and are members of the California Collegiate Athletic Association. Humboldt currently sponsors 12 intercollegiate sports programs — men's and women's soccer, basketball, cross country, and track & field as well as women's volleyball, softball, rowing and triathlon. In addition to NCAA Division II-sanctioned sports, Cal Poly Humboldt also supports over 15 club and intramurals sports programs.

Cal Poly Humboldt has won six (6) national championships; Cross Country (1980), Rowing (2012 and 2014) and Softball (1999 and 2008) and Track & Field (1926).


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