ASU adds women’s lacrosse and triathlon for 2017-18

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                </div>  Last November when Ray Anderson announced that Arizona State University would be adding men’s ice hockey to its sports offerings, the school’s athletic director hinted at plans to also […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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Last November when Ray Anderson announced that Arizona State University would be adding men’s ice hockey to its sports offerings, the school’s athletic director hinted at plans to also add another women’s program, but wouldn’t confirm which one was being considered.

Now we know.  And it’s not just one women’s sport that is being added, but two.

Anderson pointed out that other colleges across the country are considering cutting varsity sports, but that ASU was taking a different approach.  “We are adding to ours,” he said at the time, “because we believe that it’s the right thing to do.  We also believe that, as the largest public institution in the country, we should be able to field varsity sports that want to compete with the Ohio States and UCLAs and the Stanfords, who have 30-something varsity sports.”

The Sun Devils are getting closer to that 30-program mark.  With the announcement yesterday that women’s lacrosse and women’s triathlon will be added in time for the 2017-18 school year, the list of men’s and women’s sports offerings at the Pac-12 school will expand to 25.

A $32 million donation from a group of well-heeled Sun Devil sports boosters, led by Don Mullett, was used as the seed money to get the ice hockey program going.  Part of that donation, touted as the single-largest donation ever to the athletics program, was earmarked for new women’s sports.

A multi-year $140,000 grant from the USA Triathlon Foundation, designed to foster the development of women’s triathlon at the college level, also helped with the expansion.  Arizona State was one of 10 NCAA school to receive a grant.

It also marks a little more trail-blazing by the Sun Devils.  By deciding to add ice hockey, ASU became the only D-I program in the West Coast region of the country to field a hockey team and the first among the major-conference schools to add a varsity program since Penn State did it in 2012.  No other Pac-12 school offers the sport.

And now ASU becomes the first NCAA Power-Five conference school to officially adopt women’s triathlon.

ASU will become the sixth school in the Pac-12 to field a women’s lacrosse team, which is significant because six is the minimum number of teams required in a league in order to be able to offer a conference championship.

NCAA women’s lacrosse is sponsored by over 100 D-I schools, but the decision to put it into Arizona has met with enthusiastic support from the International Women’s Lacrosse College Association.  The organization’s president, Alicia Groveston, issued a statement to that effect, saying: “Having ASU as the first institution in the state of Arizona to create a program is a true testament to the amazing popularity and growth of the game at all levels.

“I look forward to seeing what a Power Five conference athletics program from the southwest part of the country can bring to our game.”

Kinda like waiting to see what happens when you stick an ice hockey program out in the middle of the desert.

It appears that ASU is becoming a testing lab for college sports.