TCU will have to add another female sport in the next year or two to move closer to a balanced set of scholarships to satisfy its Title IX compliance.
What might that sport be? Think inexpensive and relatively easy to start up.
That means hopes of TCU creating a softball program are unlikely any time soon. Softball would require an estimated $60 million in start-up costs, which would include a stadium. But money isn't the only issue. TCU's campus is already bursting at the seams. There is no obvious space to build a softball stadium.
Several sources at TCU said a softball program, although an attractive idea, is unlikely coming to the campus any time soon.
"Things could obviously change in the years to come but for now we have no plans to add any varsity sports programs at TCU," TCU athletic director Jeremiah Donati said.
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Seven schools in the Big 12 have softball programs, including Texas, Baylor, Texas Tech and Oklahoma, which just competed in its 10th Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
One source said when the need does arise, TCU is likely to add a lower-cost sport such as Triathlon or female lacrosse. Triathlon would be relatively cheap to start up with no facility necessary. The school already has a world-class natatorium. The bulk of the costs would be limited to hiring coaches. It also wouldn't take a long time to get going. The biggest obstacle would be finding a bike course. Arizona State added a triathlon program and won a national championship in its first year in 2016.
Triathlon was added to the list of NCAA emerging sports for women at the 2014 NCAA convention. According to NCAA.com, eight NCAA schools, including ASU, were part of the first wave of triathlon programs who were helped by USA Triathlon with grants to help get programs off the ground at the college level.
The emerging sports program was created to help schools provide more participation opportunities for female athletes. A sport has a 10-year window in which at least 40 schools must sponsor it before it can become an official NCAA championship. According to scholarshipstats.com, female triathlon teams can have 4.5 scholarships for a maximum roster of 19.
TCU's athletic department is out of balance with the makeup of the school's enrollment, which is more than 60 percent female.
TCU last added beach volleyball, a female-only sport, in 2015. That was also low cost to start up, requiring only a sand volleyball court and one paid coach. The Horned Frogs' have 15 women on their roster but there is a six scholarship limit.
TCU will have a Title IX review with the NCAA this summer. The NCAA will recommend a course of action to get closer to evening up the gender imbalance. Another cheap option would be archery, which is not an official NCAA sport and has no scholarship limits.
Don't expect softball. But Triathlon?
TCU could get that up and running relatively quickly for about $500,000, according to one source.
"Softball?" a source said. "That's a huge commitment. That's a pipe dream."