MARQUETTE — On Homecoming weekend, the Northern Michigan University Board of Trustees has voted to add four new varsity sports.
The board members voted to add men’s swimming and diving, and women’s golf, beginning next fall. They also voted to add women’s lacrosse and men’s soccer as soon as possible, with the goal of starting them in the fall of 2016.
The board took those steps after listening to a presentation from director of athletics Forrest Karr in which he recommended adding the four sports.
“Certainly, it’s been a long process that went back to previous presidents, when Les Wong was here,” Karr said. “Previous athletic administrations had been looking into this, talking about it for a long time, so this is a culmination of a lot of people’s work and a lot of people’s research and thought.”
NMU’s number of varsity programs would rise from 11 to 15. Athletic department expenses would also rise, but the new programs wouldn’t cost the school money as a whole. Many of the new student-athletes would be walk-ons or would have partial scholarships instead of full ones.
“The idea is — and I’ve been told this right from the start, over the last couple of years looking at this — that we don’t expect the new programs to generate a lot of net revenue,” Karr said. “But the idea is, you manage the scholarships and you manage the operating costs in such a way that it’s kind of net-neutral. It’s a wash, but you’re adding new full-time students. You’re helping grow the university.”
The new sports would keep NMU in compliance with NCAA Title IX gender equity rules.
They would also make it easier for NMU to follow an NCAA rule that member schools must offer at least one sport for each gender in each of the NCAA’s three athletic seasons.