Over the past few years club sports has been gaining more interest and support within the student body. In conjunction to that growth of interest and support, the Department of Athletics has decided to take over all the nationally competitive club sports, beginning in January.
As of now the club sports competing at the national level are men’s rugby, men’s lacrosse, men’s soccer and co-ed golf.
Director of Athletics, Lee De Leon said he played club soccer at Texas A&M and thinks bringing these sports under athletics will help increase enrollment.
“As we look at the need for the university to increase enrollment, specifically male enrollment, this makes a lot of sense for athletics to take on club sports,” De Leon said. “I think there is a huge market out there for the athletes in high school that aren’t good enough to play Div. 1 athletics, but still want to continue playing. And so we’ve got to go find those kids and say ‘hey you can come to ACU and you can play the sport you’re passionate about.”‘
De Leon also said he hopes this move will improve the overall structure and organization to the clubs and eventually add more club sports.
In making this a reality, athletics will hire a director of club sports to oversee all the clubs and help ensure they meet all the requirements to be functional and successful. This position will report to Chris Ballard, who is assistant director of athletics for academics and put together this plan for club sports.
“This move will allow us the opportunity to enhance the experience of the students who play clubs sports on campus,” Ballard said. “We believe there is some natural synergy between the two that will allow for the clubs to attract students and be more competitive in the future.”
Each of the club sports will still pay its annual dues and be student run for the most part, but De Leon said athletics will supplement the clubs budget to give them the best overall experience possible. Vice president of the rugby club team, Aaron Pokluda said this will bolster the clubs ability to compete.
“It’ll definitely aid us in bolstering our organizations and getting our names out there,” Pokluda said. “In tough sports like rugby, lacrosse, soccer and golf, it’ll allow us to see what talent there is beyond the usual pool of candidates. Although we emphasize we love walk-ons and in essence that’s what rugby is, it’s exciting to now have that capability via athletics.”
De Leon is expected to announce the director of club sports position in late December or early January.