Two days after women’s triathlon was accepted as an NCAA DI sport, it was voted into DII and DIII competition by the NCAA Legislative Council at the 2014 NCAA Convention in San Diego, Calif. Schools competing at any of the three NCAA levels will be able to field a team as early as August 2014.
Women’s triathlon received a plurality of the vote, with 96 percent in favor at the DII level and 93 percent for DIII.
Division I and II schools will have the option to offer athletic scholarships for triathlon in the fall; DIII schools do not offer tuition for athletics. Sanctioned under the Emerging Sport designation, the NCAA will not yet host a national championship. Triathlon must clear another hurdle before reaching full-fledged status as an NCAA sport.
USA Triathlon, the national governing body, helped to lay the groundwork for the sport earning NCAA status, having hosted a draft-legal collegiate championship race along with the longstanding annual non-drafting club championship race as well as lobbying heavily for inclusion. Draft-legal, Olympic distance races will be the official event.
Only women’s triathlon will be sanctioned by the NCAA, men’s competition is excluded. Title IX, legislation requiring equal opportunity for the sexes, mandates that universities and colleges offer the same benefits to male and female athletes. Football teams consume a large amount of scholarships and other benefits available to men and as a result schools seek ways to balance the ledger. Adding sports such as triathlon for women only creates an opportunity to do so.
Triathlete.com will continue to report on this story as it develops.