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From a club sport to varsity sport

Monika Litynski, The Circuit

Each new varsity sport brings a new student athlete population onto campus, but in order to become a varsity sport there are many things that need to happen to turn a club team to a varsity team.

The biggest thing is that the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, or NAIA, has to create a national championship for the sport, after which the hard work at the institutional level can begin.

Unfortunately for the Saints Women’s and Men’s Black Monks club rugby teams, they are not official varsity NAIA sports yet.

“The NAIA doesn’t have rugby,” Associate Athletic Director Michael Faucett said. “That’s what would be the biggest hangup [to becoming a varsity sport].”

The two teams have been around for over a decade each, and the Saints’ coach, 2017 alum Alexis Lange has been working on trying to make the team a varsity sport since her junior year of college and she is preparing as best as she can if the chance ever comes up to meet about the topic.

“I have a proposal already made,” Lange said. “I have a spreadsheet of financial stuff that’d be for both men’s and women’s, I have it all drawn up, I have it all typed, all written, everything and each year I update it, change it, just in case I finally can have that meeting with President Minnis.”

But there may be a solution where the teams can get some funding, while still being able to play at a competitive level.

The solution would be to become half varsity and remain half club, like Lindenwood University is.

“[Lindenwood University’s team is] considered varsity in the sense they get school sponsoring, get to use their school name and mascot, and other perks of varsity but not called varsity,” Lange said. “It is more of a half varsity type thing. That is what most teams do is they stay as a club status but get all the perks of varsity basically.”

This would be a win-win solution for both the teams and the school, bringing in a bigger diversity of student athletes, while also allowing the players to not have to worry about paying for everything out of pocket or having to constantly fund- raise according to Lange.

“You’ve got another source for enrollment, but at the same time it’s more athletes on campus,” Faucett said. “We enjoy having athletes [on campus].”

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