USA Triathlon, along with Central College Director of Athletics Eric Van Kley, has announced that Central College in Pella, Iowa, is the 31st school in the USA and the 13th at the NCAA Division III level to add women’s triathlon as a varsity sport.
The program will launch as a collegiate club this autumn/fall before receiving varsity status starting in 2020.
Central is the second school in Iowa to add women’s triathlon, joining fellow Division III program Coe College based in Cedar Rapids.
“USA Triathlon is proud to welcome Central College to the women’s NCAA triathlon family as the 31st school in the nation to offer the sport,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “With a location that offers ample regional competition with other varsity programs, and a rigorous, service-oriented education, Central provides an ideal opportunity for aspiring female student-athletes to purse triathlon at the collegiate level.”
Triathlon is Central’s 20th intercollegiate sport and the first new sport since women’s soccer was introduced in 1995. The school expects to have a head coach in place by early fall, with the search process beginning immediately.
“Central College is excited to play a leadership role in promoting women’s triathlon and offering this additional opportunity for our female student-athletes,” said athletics director Eric Van Kley. “Nationally, interest in triathlon is surging, and there is a growing need for more collegiate programs. With Central’s championship athletics tradition and outstanding facilities, we think triathlon is a good fit here.”
Central joins 12 other varsity programs located in USA Triathlon’s North Central Region: Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D., DII), Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Mich., DIII), Coe College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa, DIII), Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, Colo., DII), Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.), Drury University (Springfield, Mo., DII), Millikin University (Decatur, Ill., DIII), Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, Wis., DIII), Montana State University Billings (Billings, Mont., DII), North Central College (Naperville, Ill., DIII), Trine University (Angola, Ind., DIII) and University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D., DI).
The addition of women’s triathlon to Central’s varsity sport offerings is made possible through a grant from the USA Triathlon 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.
The NCAA named triathlon an Emerging Sport for Women in 2014, a designation that gives USA Triathlon a 10-year window to demonstrate the sport’s sustainability at the NCAA level by recruiting at least 40 varsity programs. The governing body is now more than three-quarters of the way to that goal with momentum on its side, with 18 schools added to the sport since January 2017.
Women’s triathlon is an autumn/fall sport, and the varsity season includes three Regional Qualifiers followed by the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships. Races are sprint-distance, featuring a 750m open-water swim, draft-legal 20km bike and 5km run.
Women’s Varsity Collegiate Triathlon Programs (as at August 12, 2019):
NCAA Division I
Arizona State University (Tempe, Ariz.)
East Tennessee State University (Johnson City, Tenn.)
Hampton University (Hampton, Va.)
University of San Francisco (San Francisco. Calif.)
University of South Dakota (Vermillion, S.D.)
Wagner College (Staten Island, N.Y.)
NCAA Division II
American International College (Springfield, Mass.)
Belmont Abbey College (Belmont, N.C.)
Black Hills State University (Spearfish, S.D.)
Colorado Mesa University (Grand Junction, Colo.)
Daemen College (Amherst, N.Y.)
Davis & Elkins College (Elkins, W.V.)
Drury University (Springfield, Mo.)
King University (Bristol, Tenn.)
Montana State University Billings (Billings, Mont.)
Queens University of Charlotte (Charlotte, N.C.)
St. Thomas Aquinas College (Sparkill, N.Y.)
Southern Wesleyan University (Central, S.C.)
NCAA Division III
Calvin College (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Central College (Pella, Iowa)
Coe College (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
Concordia University Wisconsin (Mequon, Wis.)
Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Va.)
Guilford College (Greensboro, N.C.)
Millikin University (Decatur, Ill.)
Milwaukee School of Engineering (Milwaukee, Wis.)
North Central College (Naperville, Ill.)
Northern Vermont University-Johnson (Johnson, Vt.)
Transylvania University (Lexington, Ky.)
Trine University (Angola, Ind.)
Willamette University (Salem, Ore.)