MOSCOW, Idaho, April 30. THE University of Idaho may be adding women's swimming to its intercollgiate offerings, according to a story by Diane Evans in today's Argonaut, the school newspaper. The decision will be made by the Idaho State Board of Education.
According to Evans' story, the Board currently is evaluating UI’s request to join the Sun Belt Conference in all sports. A resolution may be made in the next 30 days.
“And if that request is approved, then we’ll move forward with our continued commitment to Division I-A football,” said Mike Bohn, UI athletics director.
Effective fall 2005, in order for a school to be a Division I-A member, it must sponsor 16 sports, one shy of UI’s current tally of 15.
“Additionally, with our commitment to I-A comes a further commitment to gender equity,” Bohn said. “By adding a women’s sport, it would bring us in full compliance with the proportionality of Title IX.”
The top choices for UI’s newest women’s sport are swimming, softball and crew. While swimming is the frontrunner of the three choices, no definite decision has been made whether it will be the sport chosen, Bohn said.
Swimming is a top choice for more than one reason.
“No. 1, there’s a high school swimming program in this state. There’s an existing facility. We believe that swimming gives us the best opportunity to build a team.”
Bohn said UI has the facility for other sports; however, there are other factors to take in to consideration.
“For example, if you look at women’s softball and some of the others that are available, obviously, again we have the facility, but also weather concerns and the ability for success are really important.”
If swimming gets the go-ahead, the process to build a team would begin the academic school year of 2003-2004.
The new sport would bring 14 scholarships. Since swimming is an equivalency sport, scholarships can be broken down so they can spread out over as many student-athletes as UI would like, Bohn said.
“It would bring anywhere from 18-30 additional students and student-athletes to the university.”
In addition to a new team comes an updated facility.
“The swimming center is approximately 30 years old and they haven’t really updated much since that time. There would be some adjustments that would be made,” Bohn said.
“Many of those are needed regardless of (if) we have a swim program. It’s a fortuitous opportunity for us to upgrade the facility and enhance not only intercollegiate swimming, but also the entire swim enterprise on campus.”