The loss of the gymnastics program at UIC has created a conversation about funding for NCAA gymnastics and supporting the growth of additional programs in the U.S. Though gymnastics would be a great addition to any school’s athletic program, these seven universities are prime candidates for an addition.
We’re all familiar with the WIAC and its plethora of DIII teams. But what about Wisconsin’s flagship university in Madison, a Big Ten powerhouse for countless other sports? A program in Madison could be attractive for gymnasts seeking a more urban college experience; it’s not huge, but it’s the second biggest city in Wisconsin, so there’s enough people to create a fanbase in the area. It could also be a big draw for in-state recruits looking for a DI experience since there’s a decently sized J.O. base in the state as well.
It’s long been a matter of incredulity that Texas, arguably the state with the greatest volume of J.O. and elite gymnasts, has just one collegiate gymnastics program and none at the DI level (though Baylor has an acrobatics and tumbling team). There are plenty of big sports schools in Texas, and the University of Houston has actually considered adding a team. But Texas A&M is an especially compelling choice because it’s in the SEC, so it would already get a lot of visibility. Plus, College Station is located within reasonable driving distance of the Houston and Dallas metropolitan areas, so it would be relatively easy for fans from there to attend home meets.
The Ivy League is home to some of the most exciting yet under-the-radar programs in NCAA gymnastics, and Harvard would be another great addition to that hype. There’s plenty to get excited about with a Harvard program; for one, it could fill the vacuum left by MIT, whose program was cut years ago. It would also be a great addition to the ECAC, or it could encourage league administrators to break the Ivy League into its own conference for gymnastics and reshape the ECAC. Even the name Harvard is eye-catching and would stand out among potential fans.
It just doesn’t seem fair that the Big 12 had two teams in the team final this season when you remember that those two teams represent half of the conference. There are plenty of big sports schools in the Big 12 that could guarantee a fanbase for gymnastics. Kansas would be an especially good choice since it already has plenty of exposure from its men’s basketball team. Plus, it’s one of just a handful of states left that don’t have an NCAA program.
Here’s another Big 12 school that’s deserving of a gymnastics team. Another OSU (and another one with orange and black colors) could be confusing, but the fact that it’s in Oklahoma seems too good to pass up. In-state rivalry meets are always great for marketing, and how much more exciting can you get than having the top team in the nation as that rival? Plus, the team would be known as the Cowgirls, which is just fun.
Georgia Tech is a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), which also hosts schools whose gymnastics teams compete in the EAGL conference (such as Pitt, N.C. State and UNC). But why not get together enough teams to allow for gymnastics to have its own group within the conference? Georgia Tech would be a prime candidate for gymnasts looking for an especially challenging academic environment. Located in Atlanta, it also has a city vibe that could be attractive. There’s also the possibility for in-state rivalry with Georgia like Oklahoma State would have with OU… Need we say more?
Syracuse is another academically strong institution with a top athletics program. It’s similar to Kansas in that basketball is one of its main exports, so it already has plenty of exposure for that. Plus, it would be a great recruiting destination for the entire Northeast region, which doesn’t have tons of DI programs outside of Pennsylvania. For what it’s worth, Syracuse is also consistently touted as having one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, which could also be a draw.
Article by Katherine Weaver
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I think Texas Tech could be a good choice! They are in Texas and in the Big 12, which could definitely use more gymnastics teams, and it has a super loyal fanbase and many other successful athletics programs.
I think USC would be a great choice for a gymnastics program. A UCLA-USC rivalry would be great publicity and the team would probably get a good fan base and good recruits.
UT, Texas Tech, SMU, TCU, U of H, Rice? Anyone??!! Come on Texas!!
Oklahoma State and Wisconsin have sponsored women’s gymnastics in the past. I think Wisconsin dropped their program because they also dropped their baseball team. Is was a long time ago.
Wisconsin cut their program in 91. They won’t bring it back as gymnastics loses money in the big ten. Kansas is also struggling financially, mainly because of a down football program, and they are in the middle of a $400 million+ drive for capital improvements for football. Oklahoma State doesn’t even have a volleyball team, they would not be able to compete with OU so they’re out of the question. Georgia Tech would never try to compete with Georgia, no passion and the real rivalry is with UA. A&M, UT, UH should all have programs, there’s enough talent in the state for all of them to be competitive. There also needs to be stronger programs in the Carolinas, here’s looking at you USC and Clemson. Also, why does Florida have just one program? FSU or UCF would be prime candidates. CU in Boulder should jump on the PAC-12 band wagon and add a team, as well as ivy leagues, since they don’t offer scholarships start up costs would be extremely low, as well as Oregon.
How I wish my school had gymnastics
I think Louisville would be a good school. First off Louisville and Kentucky have a built in rivalry in every sport both schools compete in. Louisville is a Huge D1 school and an ACC school as well with a rabid following of fans of pretty much all sports. I have season tickets to Kentucky Gymnastics only because Louisville doesn’t have a program. If Louisville started a team I would have season tickets to both. I’d also like to see a Texas school pick up D1 womens gym as most of the powerhouse clubs are in Texas. Another place that would have a built in following.
Louisville had a strong program in the 1980s and had a perfect record when beating UGA and never losing to them.
UNLV would be another good choice. It’s amazing how many programs in the PAC-12 and SEC feature gymnasts from Las Vegas and Henderson. Just like Texas, there’s a lot of home-grown talent here that could be recruited to make a new program relevant quickly.