JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – East Tennessee State University will establish a new women’s athletic program.
On Friday, the ETSU Board of Trustees approved the creation of a new women’s Acrobatics and Tumbling program.
“It is currently recognized as an emerging sport by the NCAA and is expected to achieve NCAA Championship Sport status by 2024,” the university stated in a release.
According to ETSU, 53 other colleges in the nation offer the sport, and ETSU is already in the process of mapping out a plan for the program. The university hopes to hire a head coach for the future team in the upcoming spring with recruitment starting over the summer.
ETSU’s director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Dr. Richard Sander, said a few years ago a study was done on the athletic department. Out of that study, he said a recommendation was made to add more women’s sports.
“We looked at every potential sport, created a rubric to determine, you know using different criteria to determine which one made the most sense for us,” Sander said. “And it was pretty clear acrobatics and tumbling was the sport that we should implement here at ETSU.”
Sander said acrobatics and tumbling is versatile and that it can attract different types of athletes from other sports.
“A lot of these programs across the country use student athletes from all different sports,” Sander said. “Of course, competitive cheerleading is one, gymnastics is one, track, diving.”
The release stated “limited competitions are slated for spring 2026” with a first championship season anticipated for spring 2027.
ETSU President, Dr. Brian Noland said the program will be one of the only Division 1 teams in the region.
“There are a number of programs located in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia that we’ll have the opportunity to compete with,” Noland said.
A training facility has not been decided yet, but they are looking into several options.
“We have a multipurpose facility within the dome,” Noland said. “There are other spaces across campus that we may look to enhance. We don’t have that worked out yet, but by the time our student athletes take the court, we’ll have all the facilities constructed.”
The university reports the launching of the program will create 28 new athletic opportunities for female athletes at ETSU.
“ETSU is proud to be at the forefront of supporting new competitive opportunities for women,” Sander said in the release. “And we are thrilled to bring another exciting spectator sport to the community. I look forward to seeing crowds of dedicated Buc fans cheering for this team in the years to come.”
The National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association’s executive director, Janell Cook, said the organization is “thrilled to welcome East Tennessee State University” to the community.
In June, ETSU announced it had discontinued its Men’s Indoor Track & Field program, citing a decrease in male enrollment at the university and a need to shift athletic offerings to comply with Title IX regulations. Under Title IX, a university must offer athletic programs and opportunities to both men and women in alignment with the school’s enrollment.
The ETSU Board of Trustees also approved a proposal to officially name the field at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium on Friday. The field will now be known as the “Bank of Tennessee Field.” The release states the Bank of Tennessee has made “invaluable contributions” and supported the school’s athletic programs.