UC Davis is narrowing its choices as the athletics department must add either one or two new women's varsity teams, a necessity due to the campus's high female-to-male undergraduate student ratio.
The school will have to offer as many as 45 new opportunities for female student-athletes, according to a Feb. 16 news release by the university. An analysis by a working group has identified the four best options.
- An equestrian team
- A rowing team
- Beach volleyball and rugby teams
- Fencing and rugby teams
An equestrian team would offer a roster of up to 55 students, and a rowing team could carry 55-70 students. Rugby (as many as 30), beach volleyball (20) and fencing (22) would each allow fewer participants, according to the release.
UCD's report also notes benefits of most of these sports: Beach volleyball is sponsored by UCD's main conference, the Big West; UCD has had success with club rugby; equestrian fits well with the "notable academic strengths" of the university; and women's rowing was last a varsity sport at UCD in 2010.
There are a few apparent disadvantages to some sports. Only eight women's rugby programs and 17 equestrian programs exist at the Division I level, compared to 88 for rowing.
According to an FAQ, the new team(s) should be announced by the end of the current quarter on March 23, and will begin operation during the 2018-19 academic year.
If you're wondering about causeway rivalry implications, Sacramento State offers women's rowing and beach volleyball but doesn't feature any of the other three sports at the varsity level.
There are four critical criteria considered for a new sport at UCD, according to the news release: "number of participation opportunities, philanthropic support, competitive opportunity, and conference affiliation."
Women make up 59 percent of UCD's undergrads, according to a university student profile available online. Title IX prevents sex-based discrimination in federally funded education activities, meaning universities must offer athletics opportunities in quantities that are balanced with respect to the school's student demographic.
The news release notes that NCAA sponsorship is not a Title IX requirement, but that it is "strongly preferred" by the university.
UCD already offers more women's sports (14) than men's (nine). However, the 2018 football roster alone currently has 115 players listed, far more than any other sport.
College fundraising staff are currently seeking prospective donors to support a new team. Interested donors can pledge by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 9, according to the news release.