And then there were 22 … sports at the University of Arizona, that is.
UA officials have added women’s triathlon to the mix of sports at UA. Arizona will begin official triathlon competition during the 2023-24 academic year.
“After a thorough evaluation of our 21-sport model, we are excited to add women’s triathlon as our newest program as we continue to fulfill our Wildcat Way mission of developing academic, athletic and life champions,” Heeke said. “Triathlon is a growing NCAA sport that has tremendous popularity locally in Southern Arizona and nationally throughout the country. Additionally, our community is a marquee training ground for triathlon, which makes this an ideal addition to our department. This announcement comes as we celebrate the milestone anniversary of Title IX, and I look forward to watching Arizona women’s triathlon grow as another point of pride for the University of Arizona.”
Arizona Athletics will begin a national search for the program’s first-ever head coach. The program will utilize existing athletics facilities as well as local venues in Tucson.
Women’s triathlon is a fall sport, and the varsity season includes national qualifiers followed by the Women’s Collegiate Triathlon National Championships, held in November. The draft-legal races are sprint-distance, featuring a 750-meter open-water swim, draft-legal 20-kilometer bike and 5-kilometer run. Triathlon was approved as the next Emerging Sport for Women for all NCAA institutions in January of 2014. Over 40 institutions, across all levels of NCAA competition, sponsor women’s triathlon. Division I institutions in the region who sponsor the sport include Denver, TCU, San Francisco and Arizona State. The NCAA’s current scholarship maximum for Women’s Triathlon is 6.5.
“The addition of women’s triathlon at the University of Arizona represents a major milestone in the women’s collegiate triathlon movement,” said Rocky Harris, USA Triathlon CEO. “The state of Arizona is a world-renowned triathlon haven. With access to a variety of trails and roads that offer high-quality, year-round training, the school is sure to attract top student-athletes. USA Triathlon is thrilled to see increased competitive opportunities for student-athletes at the NCAA Division I level — more opportunities will help drive collegiate triathlon competition to the highest level.”
Women’s Triathlon is the Arizona’s first new sport since adding Beach Volleyball, which began competing in 2014. The 22nd program sponsored by Arizona Athletics gives the department 13 women’s sports, which puts Arizona among the Pac-12 Conference’s leaders in number of women’s varsity sports sponsored.