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The Wall Street Journal discusses why triathlon may find success as an NCAA sport despite the fact that many sports have failed to find success.
Several women’s sports that the NCAA has tested in recent years have failed to survive, including archery, synchronized swimming and team handball.
But as triathlon begins its trial next autumn as an NCAA “emerging sport for women,” it boasts a distinct advantage: money. The sport is so fast-growing among free-spending adults that its governing body, USA Triathlon, can afford to put some financial muscle behind the NCAA effort.
On Friday, USA Triathlon announced a decision to award $2.6 million in grants to colleges that launch women’s triathlon teams. Following an application process, it expects to distribute about 20 grants among schools in all three NCAA divisions. A Division I triathlon team could receive up to $140,000 over four competitive seasons, Division II and III schools half that amount.
“At USAT, we’re pretty successful. We have the ability to grow our sport,” said Rob Urbach, the governing body’s chief executive.
Moreover, to help universities offset the cost of the sport, USAT has a novel plan: open collegiate competitions to recreational triathletes who think nothing of paying $100 registration fees. With help from USAT, colleges could invite alumni, community members and others to take part in an NCAA sporting event in much the way that fees-paying amateurs compete behind professionals in the TCS New York City Marathon.
“Triathletes are always looking for opportunities to race,” said Urbach, evoking the possibility of “a thousand paying adults.” Between 2000 and 2013, USAT members skyrocketed to 495,330 from 122,388.
Read more: Wsj.com