Having announced plans for a women's rowing program, the University of Oklahoma will join more than 80 other Division I schools already competing in varsity rowing, a sport traditionally limited to the East Coast.
Currently, the only other Big 12 schools with Division I rowing programs are:
" Kansas and
" Kansas State.
OU officially will put its plan into motion during the upcoming 2007-08 academic year. It is expected to begin competing in 2009.
"It's a great opportunity for the university and for women's rowing," said Eric Lang, a volunteer coach of OU's unofficial rowing teams. "I know (Athletics Director) Joe Castiglione and the University have been looking at doing something like this for several years and I believe it's going to be a big positive."
The men's and women's rowing teams at Oklahoma City University were the first to make a splash locally. Head coach Mike Knopp helped start those programs in 2003.
OU's announcement to add rowing comes on heels of a similar move by University of Central Oklahoma, which will make women's rowing an official sport in 2008. OCU also has plans to expand its program by adding sculling this fall.
"We have one of the premier rowing venues in the country and having a strong presence of collegiate programs is going to a big positive," said Knopp. "OU getting involved is really going to help raise the bar as far as boosting the competitive level of the sport." "Jay C. Upchurch