It was almost eight years ago that Arizona State University announced it was dropping men’s tennis from its sports offerings, citing “economic realities” that were weighing on the school.
That decision, back in May of 2008, stands now in stark contrast to the latest news out of the Pac-12 school. ASU just announced the development of a strategic alliance with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), which is the governing body for college tennis.
As part of this new program, the ITA will move its Princeton, N.J., headquarters to the Tempe campus.
Men’s tennis was one of three sports cut from the budget during the economic downturn the country was experiencing in 2008, and men’s swimming and wrestling were also included. Both swimming and wrestling were reinstated within short order when supporters in the community stepped forward to help with new funding.
Women’s tennis continued and is thriving today as the Sun Devils worked their way into a No. 19 national ranking just a week ago.
And now this arrangement with the ITA will bring new benefits to their program, but is also expected to be a boon to the local community. It is designed to use outreach initiatives to increase participation and accessibility to tennis programs for all age groups and talent levels. That, in turn, can only improve the local talent pool for ASU.
According to the release from ASU, this strategic alliance “holds the potential to transform the Valley of the Sun into the leading tennis community in the West.”
One of the facets to the alliance provides that the organizations bring their resources together to foster research into tennis and sport technology.
Ray Anderson, ASU Vice President of University Athletics, offered his perspective as well. “As the New American University, we are always looking for innovative ways to advance the experience of our student-athletes and the promotion of Olympic sports, and this alliance with the ITA is an opportunity to elevate Sun Devil tennis and grow the sport as a whole.”
Along that same line of thought, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott points out that “the alliance between ASU and the ITA reinforces Ray Anderson’s and the Sun Devil Athletics’ commitment to the enrichment and advancement of Olympic sports.”
The ITA governs the sport at a variety of levels besides Division I. Those include NCAA D-II and D-III, as well as NAIA and junior-college programs. It provides the rankings and awards for men’s and women’s varsity players, coaches, and teams in all divisions.
No timetable was given for the relocation of the ITA headquarters to the ASU campus.
(Photo: ASU Athletics)