Elon University athletic director Dave Blank said the athletic department is considering adding women’s swimming, lacrosse or sand volleyball to the program’s lineup of sports.
“The way that works is you look at what’s around you and what would make sense geographically,” Blank said. “We would be looking at swimming and lacrosse, potentially sand volleyball that’s coming on as an emerging sport. We’ll be making that recommendation to the Board of Trustees in this upcoming budget process to say this is what we think would work.”
The school currently has seven men’s athletic teams and eight women’s teams.
At the beginning of the school year, the university released their yearly “Institutional Priorities.” One section of the priorities is bent toward “establishing a national tournament tradition of athletics success along with the highest academic standards for Phoenix athletics.”
One of the points in this section reads: “Advance the gender equity plan by adding three scholarships for women’s sports programs, acquiring a new assistant coach for volleyball, identifying funds for phase I of a new softball facility and planning the addition of a new women’s Division I sport.”
Blank cited this gender equity plan as the reason for pushing for another women’s sport. The plan emphasizes a ratio of women’s and men’s athletes equal to the number of students of each gender on campus.
“(At) Elon, we’re generally sixty percent female enrolled and sixty percent male participant,” he said.” So we’re out of balance. When you look at it from that standpoint, it’s risky to add men’s opportunities at this point in time. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t do it, but doesn’t mean it’s something that would be the best thing to do. What we need to do is consider offering women’s opportunities and work at the ratio and the fact that we’re out-of-bounds and that’s what we’re doing.”
Among the women’s opportunities Blank and the athletic department are considering, lacrosse seems to be the top choice.
“Obviously, lacrosse is a good fit for us and it’s been talked about on a number of levels,” he said. “So we could be looking at women’s lacrosse, a couple of other sports. Hopefully, we’ll be taking action on it here before too long.”
Blank said the university’s Board of Trustees will be meeting the in the next couple weeks and will vote on a budget, around Feb. 14 or 15. That budget will play into whether or not the plan for adding the women’s sport moves forward.