ASU picks up 26th Varsity Sport
PHOENIX – Arizona State University caused a mix of emotions when it added men’s tennis and women’s lacrosse as varsity sports, while men’s soccer was put on the back burner yet again.
Men’s soccer has been on the list of club sports to reach varsity status for four years and last year was surpassed by men’s ice hockey after the team received a large donation of $32 million dollars.
The money donated was used to fund men’s ice hockey, women’s triathlon, and women’s lacrosse. Women’s triathlon and women’s lacrosse was added to the bunch to follow the Title IX rule the states there must be an amount of equal men’s and women’s sports.
The two main donors of men’s tennis are ASU Vice President of Athletics, Ray Anderson and Adidas.
Anderson led the donation with a contribution of $1 million, and Adidas added $4 million.
Natalie Thackrach, ASU athletic advisor, expressed her excitement for the newly added tennis team.
“I think it’s great that it’s coming back because it was a sport for a long time,” said Thackrah. “I think the fact that we’re bringing it back says a lot about our department and what the sport means to the community and the fact that we’re trying to add Olympic sports rather than cut them is great.”
Jason Johnston, ASU’s men’s club soccer president, gave an understanding into how the men’s club soccer team is bettering themselves on the field to achieve varsity status.
Arizona has a large soccer community. However, it does not have enough donors to boost the club up to the varsity level, since the players themselves fund the team.
“First, I am always excited to hear about ASU adding new varsity sports,” said Johnston. “It’s great to hear in a time when athletic programs are threatened to be cut and being cut, ASU is adding programs and offering more opportunities to athletes.”
Johnston further stated that the men’s club soccer program hired a coach that has experience playing soccer internationally.
The program has only focused on performing at a high level to make the program undeniable to play at the next level, said Johnston.
However, Johnston also stated that the main reason men’s soccer isn’t a varsity sport is because the funding isn’t quite there yet. The club has also yet to make any formal pitch to the university about becoming a sport.
“Our club is very happy at the club level, but I certainly believe, with the soccer hot bed that is Arizona, Arizona State University should have a varsity soccer team,” said Johnston.
To push soccer up to the varsity level, it would need an upfront donation large enough to start the team and a follow up donation that would fund travel, facility keeping, and recruiting.
Krista Kolkebeck, a varsity swimmer at ASU, expressed her desire for a men’s varsity team at the university.
“I’ve always been a fan of soccer, I’ve watched it all my life,” said Kolkebeck. “I’d really love to see a men’s soccer team at ASU because I think it’s the only major men’s sport that we’re missing now.”