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Sun Devil Athletics | October 20, 2015

Arizona State adds women's triathlon, lacrosse as NCAA varsity sports

TEMPE, Ariz. – Through generous donations and a grant from USA Triathlon, Sun Devil Athletics officially announces the addition of NCAA women’s triathlon and NCAA women’s lacrosse as Arizona State’s 24th and 25th varsity sports, respectively. The first seasons of triathlon and lacrosse are scheduled for the 2017-18 academic year.

In November 2014, Sun Devil Athletics received the largest donation in department history of $32M to fund the elevation of the Sun Devil Men’s Ice Hockey team to the NCAA Division I level. The donation also provided extra support to sponsor additional women’s NCAA programs for both Title IX compliance and to expand educational opportunities for future Sun Devil student-athletes.

“To date, this is one of the most rewarding experiences I have had here at Arizona State,” said Ray Anderson, Vice President for University Athletics. “To announce today that we are expanding competitive and educational opportunities for future Sun Devil student-athletes is extraordinarily gratifying. It is an honor for ASU to be able to empower, embolden, serve and provide opportunities for these young people. The addition of triathlon, lacrosse and even hockey, embodies the purpose for us as administrators and advocates for our student-athletes.”

Sun Devil Athletics was one of 10 NCAA schools to receive a multi-year Women’s Triathlon Emerging Sport grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation. The grant was created to drive the establishment of NCAA women’s varsity triathlon programs. ASU is the first NCAA Power-Five conference school to officially adopt the sport of triathlon. Along with the 10 grant recipients, 12 NCAA schools pledged their intention to sponsor varsity Triathlon, including several Pac-12 institutions, by signing the NCAA Emerging Sport proposal.

The addition of women’s lacrosse as an NCAA varsity sport was an advantageous selection for Arizona State and the Pac-12 Conference. With Arizona State adopting a women’s lacrosse team, the Pac-12 Conference will field six lacrosse teams within the league – the minimum number of teams required for a conference championship. With women’s soccer and lacrosse competing at alternate times of the year, Sun Devil Athletics has the luxury of utilizing the same field and facility for soccer in the fall and lacrosse in the spring.

“For the sport of women’s lacrosse it is a very transformational and exciting time,” said International Women’s Lacrosse College Association (IWLCA) president Alicia Groveston. “With Arizona State adopting NCAA women’s lacrosse, not only are we adding another Division I school sponsoring our sport, but one with amazing name recognition. Having ASU as the first institution in the state of Arizona to create a program is a true testament to the amazing popularity and growth of our game at all levels. I look forward to seeing what a Power Five conference athletics program from the southwest part of our country can bring to our game.”

NCAA women’s lacrosse is sponsored by over 100 Division I schools in the country and is one of the fastest growing NCAA sports as participation has almost doubled over the last decade, much of which is throughout the Midwest and West Coast.

The addition of women’s sporting programs at Arizona State is in line with the inclusive vision of Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow. Sun Devil Athletics seeks to provide opportunities for prospective student-athletes that reflect the diversity of the institution as a whole.

"We are thrilled that Arizona State University will be adding women’s lacrosse as a varsity sport in 2018," said Melissa Coyne, Director of Games Administration at US Lacrosse. "The state of Arizona has demonstrated consistent growth at the youth and high school levels, and the addition of an NCAA Division I team provides an excellent opportunity for female student-athletes in the region and beyond to pursue both academic and athletic achievements at the highest levels. Historically, women’s lacrosse players have not only excelled on the field, but they have demonstrated high academic acumen. Colleges and universities across the country are taking notice. US Lacrosse applauds the efforts of Arizona State Athletics Director Ray Anderson and wishes the team much future success."

From USA Triathlon, Sun Devil Athletics will receive a grant of $140,000 distributed over the course of three years to develop, implement, grow and sustain women’s triathlon programs at the NCAA-level. The collegiate sport of triathlon will compete at the “sprint distance,” which includes a 750M swim, a 20K bike ride, and a 5K run.

“I have been a big fan of Arizona State’s athletic department and athletic director Ray Anderson as the school continues to make bold moves to heighten their competitiveness across multiple NCAA sports,” said Rob Urbach, USA Triathlon CEO. “We are thrilled to see the addition of triathlon as an NCAA sport at Arizona State, and we know the grant funding awarded by USA Triathlon earlier this year will be put to good use in creating the triathlon program.”

The sport of triathlon is growing exponentially with annual membership in USA Triathlon increasing from 127,824 in 1999 to now over 510,859 members. Among women, USA Triathlon has seen over 400 percent growth in the sport with membership increasing from 34,512 to 189,018 over the last 15 years. In 2000, Triathlon became an Olympic sport beginning with the Sydney Olympic Games.

The outreach from the respective sporting communities including support from adidas, Santini, Roka, Destination Kona, and the Velo bike shop, is unparalleled and has helped Sun Devil Athletics obtain the necessary infrastructure to support both the addition of Lacrosse and Triathlon as NCAA programs.

To learn more and support triathlon and lacrosse, visit http://sundevilclub.com/TRI-LAX.