INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics (CWA) has recommended that all three divisions of the NCAA governance structure add acrobatics and tumbling to the NCAA Emerging Sports for Women program. If adopted, the sport would join the program Aug. 1, 2020. Women’s wrestling also received a recommendation from the CWA this morning.

The CWA identifies sports to be added to the Emerging Sports for Women program, which is a pipeline supporting the advancement of women’s sports to NCAA championship status. The program also provides athletics opportunities for women and sport-sponsorship options for colleges and universities. Schools also may use an emerging sport to help meet membership minimum sports-sponsorship requirements and financial aid requirements.

A sport must have a minimum of 20 varsity teams and/or competitive club teams that have competed in a minimum of five contests to be considered for the emerging sports program. The sport must reach 40 varsity programs to move forward to the NCAA governance structure for championship consideration.

"On behalf of the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics, I would like to commend the leaders of both the acrobatics and tumbling and the women’s wrestling communities and thank them for their extensive work to ensure young female athletes in these sports are able to continue their participation at the collegiate level," said Julie Cromer Peoples, committee chair and senior deputy athletics director for administration/senior woman administrator at Arkansas. "The CWA worked with representatives of both sports for several years to prepare them for advancement to NCAA emerging sport status, and we encourage all three divisions to support this expansion of opportunities for young women on NCAA campuses that choose to sponsor these sports."

The Committee on Women’s Athletics commended acrobatics and tumbling for showing how its student-athletes already were integrated fully within athletics departments; how they are enjoying experiences comparable to those of other NCAA student-athletes; and how the sport could grow. The recommendation also shows that Acrobatics & Tumbling has met the objective criteria for emerging sport consideration and demonstrates the Committee’s confidence that Acrobatics & Tumbling can achieve NCAA championship status.

Each NCAA division will now consider the CWA’s recommendation. If adopted, Acrobatics & Tumbling would be formally recognized as an emerging sport effective August 1, 2020.

The National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA) celebrates the recommendation by recognizing the work of the administrators, coaches, and student-athletes of NCATA member schools.

"The emergence and growth of Acrobatics & Tumbling is a direct result of the efforts of our determined administrators and coaches, as well as the student-athletes past and present who have competed in the sport," said NCATA President Dr. Renee Baumgartner. "Their belief and dedication have paved the way for a truly exceptional story in collegiate sports. We look forward to working with the NCAA, as we add new programs and increase the competitive opportunities for young women who dream of becoming a collegiate student-athlete."

Acrobatics & Tumbling was developed to provide fair and safe opportunities for young women to compete at the varsity intercollegiate level in skill sets primarily developed through youth participation in all disciplines of gymnastics or in cheerleading.

Thirty-one institutions sponsor Acrobatics & Tumbling as a varsity sport on their campus, including six that added a program in 2019. Twenty-nine of the 31 institutions that sponsor acrobatics and tumbling are members of one of the three NCAA divisions.

Continued growth across the country will remain a top priority for the NCATA as staff prepare for the next phase of the emerging sport process.

"It’s an incredible feeling to be taking this next big step. I can’t help but think of all the student-athletes and coaches who took a leap of faith, who have dedicated themselves to the growth of the sport, and who will certainly be celebrating the news today," said NCATA Executive Director Janell Cook. "The best is yet to come, and the Acrobatics & Tumbling community will be so encouraged as they continue the journey."

Gary Pine, Director of Athletics at Azusa Pacific University, echoed Baumgartner and Cook’s comments.

"It’s been a long 10-year journey but well worth it. The NCAA process strengthened the sport and assured acrobatics and tumbling a solid future," said Pine. "I’m proud Azusa Pacific was there from the beginning of the process. The executives and coaches should be very proud of their perseverance, creativity, and flexibility in creating a new sport for women."

The Emerging Sports for Women program has been in existence since 1994. In the past 21 years, several sports have reached championship status, including beach volleyball, rowing, ice hockey, water polo and bowling. The program currently has three sports: equestrian, rugby and triathlon.