With the news from Duke University that they will add softball in 2018 and add scholarships for rowing, fencing, swimming/diving, and track and field, the question presents itself once more as to which sports the Charlotte athletic department will add in order to come into compliance with Title IX. With football in place, the school must now move over the next few years to provide a proportionate number of scholarship opportunities for female athletes or risk losing federal funding.
Last night, on the Charlotte 49ers’ coaches show, AD Judy Rose made a guest appearance, telling ESPN 730′s Bobby Rosinski that the school is looking at adding two or three sports over the next decade. She wasn’t specific on which ones but did mention that women’s golf could be the first one added. Charlotte’s men’s team has traditionally been a regional and national powerhouse in golf in past years, and adding the sport for women would make sense since the resources are already in place.
What about the other two? Here are a couple of possibilities that have been mentioned.
Field hockey: It’s important to note that Conference USA does not sponsor field hockey; Charlotte’s C-USA mate, Old Dominion, joined the Big East as an associate member after leaving the CAA (which sponsored field hockey but refused to keep the Monarchs on board after becoming a full C-USA member). Duke and North Carolina, the closest Division I field hockey schools, compete in the ACC, but the chances of Charlotte joining that league as an associate are slim to none. The A-10, Charlotte’s former home and a field hockey sponsor, is unlikely to allow them to return in a associate capacity. Odds seem to favor either the Big East or (less likely) the Mid-American Conference.
Swimming and diving: A C-USA sponsored sport, this would actually make sense due to the nationally-recognized swimming organizations that exist not only around the Charlotte area, but across the Carolinas as well. It could stand to be successful in a short amount of time due to the fact that it could immediately establish a local pipeline of talented swimmers and possibly bring in an established, nationally-known but locally-based coach with the credentials to build a competitive program. SwimMAC head coach David Marsh, one of the most successful college swimming coaches in NCAA history with Auburn, could be tapped in an advisory role and assist in the university’s vetting process of hiring a head coach. “Home” meets could be held at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in uptown, easily accessible from the main campus via the planned Blue Line light rail, at least until a new natatorium is built on campus.
Expect things to move relatively fast. We’ve heard 2016 as a possible date for the first sport to be added, but that’s yet to be confirmed by the school. Either way, the landscape of Niner sports is set to change even more.