Arizona Wildcats to announce the addition of a women’s sport this summer

This summer, Arizona will honor the 50th anniversary of Title IX, the law that required equal educational opportunities for female students. One of its many provisions required schools that offered sports for men and boys to offer the same to women and girls, leading to the explosion in female athletic participation across the country over the past five decades.

At the University of Arizona, several more women will get that opportunity soon.

In the edition of Wildcat Wednesday published on May 18, Arizona athletic director Dave Heeke announced that Arizona will add one more women’s sports program in the near future. The sport will be announced this summer.

“A comprehensive review and plan were being developed prior to the global pandemic and the work resumed this last year,” Heeke stated in his weekly update. “We have continuously evaluated our entire 21-sport model and look towards expanding our department in alignment with the growing participation of women in sports. The department will be concluding its process in the weeks to come and will be prepared to announce the selected sport.”

What that sport might be is up in the air, but a strong contender is women’s lacrosse. The sport is currently played by six other Pac-12 schools including Arizona State. The furthest north Arizona would have to travel to play a Pac-12 opponent is Eugene, Ore. Most of the travel would be confined to Arizona and California.

Other possibilities are water polo, field hockey, rowing, and acrobatics and tumbling, but there are issues with either the conditions needed to participate or the lack of Pac-12 competition with all four.

The most common of the sports Arizona does not currently sponsor is rowing. Seven schools have women’s rowing, but all are in states that lie along the Pacific Ocean. UCLA and USC are the only two schools in the southern half of the league that sponsor the sport. It would also appear to be the sport that Arizona would have the most challenges providing facilities for.

Water polo is next on the list of popular women’s sports in the league. It is played at five Pac-12 schools. All five are in Arizona and California.

Field hockey is only offered by Cal and Stanford, while the only school to sponsor an acrobatics and tumbling team is Oregon.

In addition to the announcement of the new program, Arizona will host a day of events to commemorate Title IX on Thurs., June 23. It will include a lunch panel that features Arizona sports legends Rocky LaRose, Adia Barnes, Jenny Dalton-Hill, Tanya Hughes, and Lacey John.