Hartwick College (Oneonta, NY) announced that it will move its women’s water polo club team to a varsity level. Although the institution competes at the Division III level with most of its sports, they have decided to add women’s water polo on a Division I level and will be providing the maximum number of scholarships to the incoming athletes. They have begun the search for a full-time head and expect to begin competition in the 2000-2001 academic year.
The addition of Hartwick means the sport of women’s water polo is now sponsored by 40 institutions on the varsity level nationwide, up from five just five years ago. The significance of this number relates to a requirement from the NCAA that stipulates 40 institutions must sponsor the sport on a varsity level to be eligible for a fully funded National Championship.
United States Water Polo, the National Governing Body for the Olympic sport, will be actively working with collegiate conferences, in order to petition the NCAA to establish the championship as early as possible, with the proposed target date of May 2000, the same year women’s water polo becomes an Olympic sport for the first time.