Adams State to add five 'enrollment-based' sports
Cheerleading also to expanded
ALAMOSA, Colo.— The Adams State College Board of Trustees unanimously approved a plan Friday that will add five additional “enrollment-based” sports to the institution’s well-rounded athletic program over the next two years. The plan calls for the addition of men’s golf, men’s soccer and women’s swimming & diving for the 2009-10 academic year and further expansion with the sports of women’s lacrosse and men’s swimming & diving, starting in the fall of 2010.
The college’s cheerleading program will also be expanded and made into a co-ed squad as part of the plan that is intended to increase enrollment, graduation rates and retention rates for the college as a whole while maintaining the competitive resources of Adams State’s existing sports despite tough economic times that are hitting funding levels for higher education
Adams State, a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference and the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) at the Division II level, currently fields 14 athletic programs— eight women’s and six men’s. This plan, which maintains ASC’s gender-equity balance, will increase the college’s total numbering of athletic offerings to 19— 10 women’s and nine men’s— and immediately reintroduces a sport (men’s golf) that has a proud history at Adams State until it was dropped less than three years ago.
Adams State currently has approximately 375 student-athletes. The department will grow to serve more than 500 by the time is fully implemented, more than a quarter of the entire student-body population.
“Studies, both internal and external, have shown that student-athletes perform, remain and graduate at a significantly higher level than their non-athletic peers,” Adams State Athletic Director Larry Mortensen said.
“Why wouldn’t we want more students like that?”
Mortensen was quick to point out that the new programs will not take away resources from existing sports and will be funded with revenues generated from the 154 new students expected to enroll at Adams State as a result of the new sports.
The scholarships that the new sports will offer to student-athletes will be in the form of partial room waivers in Adams State’s residential facilities, currently filled at an about 80 percent capacity, according to Director of Auxiliary Services Bruce DelTondo.
“It also will help fill beds in our under-used dormitories and bring more geographically, racially and economic diverse students to our campus.
“Studies have also shown that the addition of athletic programs at other institutions have resulted in increased enrollment as new students often bring friends, boyfriends or girlfriends and spouses with them, an additional group of new students.
“The possibilities and benefits of this plan are endless,” Mortensen said.
“The new sports are intended to give even more students a chance at a positive collegiate experience through athletics. That’s what many of today’s potential college students are looking for and is exactly what small-college athletics and Division II are all about,” Mortensen added.
“Although part of Adams State’s mission has been and is to provide a high-quality education at an affordable cost, students need and want the extra opportunities and feeling of belonging to something beyond the classroom. This plan creates that exact type of opportunity.”
The Adams State men’s golf program was discontinued after the 2005-06 academic year as a cost-savings measure. The Grizzlies will immediately resume a full Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference schedule during the 2009-10 year.
ASC, which started a women’s program at the club level in 2004-05 and at the varsity level the year following, will join eight other RMAC institutions in sponsoring a men’s team after college officials notify the conference of their intention at conference meetings, held in conjunction with the NCAA Convention next month in Washington, D.C.
The Grizzlies, who won back-to-back RMAC titles in 2000 and 2001, qualified as a team for NCAA regional championship tournaments for four straight years from 2000-03 and sent Jeff Phillippe as an individual in 2004 and 2005, his junior and senior seasons.
The team will play tournaments during both the fall and spring portions of the year, including all four mandatory RMAC Tournaments that determine the conference’s champion and automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division II Championships, split between regional and national tournaments.
Cattails Golf Course, a corporate partner of Adams State Athletics, will be the team’s home track, a relationship the Grizzly women’s team also enjoys.
“We have a nice home course and a community that supports golf. However, for us to compete at a high level, we will need support from outside sources,” Mortensen said.
Women's Swimming & Diving
Currently sponsored by three members of the RMAC and four other associate members of the conference, Adams State will field a women’s swimming and diving team for the first time in school-history in 2009-10.
In 2008-09, the RMAC is sponsoring a conference championship for the first time since 1984 and will hold that championship Feb. 19-21 in San Antonio, Texas, the location of the University of Incarnate Word, one of the associate members of the conference. The 2009 National Championships will be held in Houston, Texas as part of the Division II Winter Sports Festival that also includes competition in men’s and women’s indoor track & field and wrestling.
The season runs from October through mid-March. Qualification for the National Championships is done on an individual athlete basis similar to track and field where athletes attempt to reach qualifying standards in the various events.
Obviously needing a practice facility, preparations are being made to re-open the Plachy Hall pool for use in the spring semester.
Adams has had a club men’s soccer team, not associated with the athletic department, in previous years but will sponsor the sport on the varsity level for the first time.
The Grizzlies will not play a full schedule in the fall of 2009 but will field a team of around 25 student-athletes to play a partial schedule. The team will then play a full RMAC schedule in the fall of 2010.
The plans are to build a multi-purpose facility with synthetic turf similar to what was installed in Rex Stadium over the summer of 2008. This facility will then be used by both the men’s and women’s soccer programs.
The Grizzlies will become the ninth RMAC member to sponsor men’s soccer. Conference officials set the RMAC portion of teams’ schedules and try to allow for as many men’s/women’s doubleheaders as possible. This allows institutions to promote the sport better and maximize travel cost efficiency, as the men’s and women’s teams can travel together for many away games. This is also done in several other conference sports, most notably in basketball where conference games are always played in the doubleheader format.
Men’s Swimming & Diving
The addition of men’s swimming & diving in 2009-10 will not be Adams State’s first endeavor at the sport. The institution successfully sponsored the sport until the mid 1970’s as a member of the NAIA, an organization that Adams State was a member of through 1991-92.
That success was certainly led by Kim Cummings, a 2003 inductee into Adams State’s Athletic Hall of Fame. Cummings won three individual NAIA National Championships, including the 200-yard freestyle events in 1969 and 1972 and the 100-yard event in 1969.
A total of four RMAC institutions currently offer the emerging sport, including Colorado Mines, which is the only full RMAC member to sponsor it at this time.
Lacrosse is one of the country’s most popular and rapidly growing sports. Touted as the oldest team sport in North America, if not the entire world, the original sport was developed by Native Americans as early as the 12th century.
The modern game is widely played both collegiately and professionally, indoors and outdoors. The Colorado Mammoth, who play the indoor version as part of the National Lacrosse League, regularly sell-out Denver’s Pepsi Center for home games and are one of the league’s elite teams. The Denver Outlaws are an outdoor team who competes in Major League Lacrosse games at the Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium. They won the Western Conference title in 2008 and led the league in attendance last season drawing nearly 11,000 fans per game.
On the collegiate level, Adams State will become the third RMAC institution to sponsor a women’s program. Regis has had a varsity program for around a decade while Fort Lewis added a squad this year. Other institutions in the state such as Colorado College and Denver University also sponsor the sport at the varsity level.
The sport is also rapidly developing in the Colorado high school ranks, especially in the Denver Metro area and throughout the Front Range, areas that Adams State recruits a large number of students.
The RMAC does not currently sponsor a championship in the sport but would do so if at least five institutions participate, something that is a distinct possibility as several other RMAC schools have also expressed unofficial and preliminary interest in starting a program.
The NCAA does have a Division II Championship, held in the spring. Teams may also play against outside competition on a limited basis during the fall non-championship segment of the season, something other Adams State programs such as softball and volleyball also do.
A search for a coach would begin in the fall of 2009.
As part of the plan, the cheerleading squad will become co-ed and will include a dance team. The existing squad, which currently only supports other teams while helping provide an exciting fan-friendly atmosphere at home and occasional away meets, will now compete in competitions of their own.