KUTZTOWN, Pa. — Kutztown University president Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson announced Tuesday the addition of women’s Acrobatics and Tumbling as the university’s 22nd varsity intercollegiate sport. The Golden Bears will begin competition during the 2021-22 academic year.
The addition of acrobatics and tumbling, identified by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) as an emerging sport, enhances the university’s commitment to Title IX in its athletics program by adding an average of 30 women’s student-athletes to its current total, while helping to boost overall university enrollment. It also grows the Golden Bears’ varsity intercollegiate sports offering to 22, which includes 14 women’s programs, and eight men’s programs.
“We are excited about the opportunity to bring more student-athletes to our campus, while enhancing our efforts to support Title IX in athletics,” Dr. Hawkinson said. “We have been discussing the possibility of growing our enrollment through athletics for nearly three years. Our student-athletes persist and retain at a high level, and their grade point averages tend to be at or above that of the overall student body. Acrobatics and Tumbling will certainly contribute to that trend.”
Acrobatics and Tumbling is the evolution of different disciplines of gymnastics, which includes the athletic aspects of competitive cheerleading. The format was created at the collegiate level to address the interest and abilities of young women competing in this skill set. Individuals and small groups execute acrobatic lifts, tosses, and tumbling.
“We welcome Kutztown University to the Acrobatics & Tumbling community,” said NCATA President Dr. Renee Baumgartner. “During this time of uncertainty, the addition of a new program is such welcome news and we applaud Kutztown for adding these unique opportunities for young women to compete.”
NCAA Division II and NCAA Division III adopted Acrobatics and Tumbling as an emerging sport in January 2020, effective August 1, 2020, for the 2020-21 academic year. NCAA Division I also adopted Acrobatics and Tumbling as an emerging sport during a June 2020 vote. Kutztown will be the 23nd member to compete at the NCAA Division II level, and the third member of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) to add the sport, joining East Stroudsburg University and Gannon University. In all, 34 intercollegiate athletics departments sponsor Acrobatics and Tumbling, including 32 NCAA institutions.
The university will begin its search for a full-time Acrobatics and Tumbling coach immediately, with the intention to have the successful candidate on board by January. The new head coach will recruit student-athletes in the spring of 2021, with competition set to begin in spring of 2022.
“We researched sport expansion extensively over the last three academic years and came to the conclusion that adding acrobatics and tumbling was the best strategy for Kutztown University and Golden Bear athletics at this time,” Matt Santos, KU vice president for University Relations & Athletics said. “We are thrilled to be able to enhance our efforts with women’s athletics, which will also allow us to slightly grow the rosters of our men’s teams, and support overall university enrollment. We are looking forward to hiring a qualified coach to get the program off to a strong start, and carry on the strong tradition established by all of our athletic teams.”
Acrobatics and Tumbling meets include six events, all of which are competed on the floor and in varying group sizes. Competition is held in the spring and requires a total of six meets, including a minimum of two home events.
“Program growth is always exciting, and especially so when it adds programs within a conference of some of our existing members,” said NCATA Executive Director Janell Cook. “Kutztown is joining Gannon & East Stroudsburg in the PSAC, and we are encouraged by the potential for additional growth. Most importantly, we’re excited for the new opportunities for young women competing in gymnastics and cheerleading to join a program.”