Oct 29, 2013 - By Craig Blumenshine, Staff WriterLater this week Steve Barlow, in his first-year as athletic director after departmental reorganization at Central Wyoming College, says he will release the initial findings of the school's feasibility study that could determine whether a new sport or sports are added at CWC.
Choosing to add just a men's sport, or a men's and a woman's sport, will be an important decision for the college.
In the late 1970s, in addition to basketball and volleyball, CWC competed on the intercollegiate level in tennis and golf. Today, the college offers women's volleyball, men's and women's basketball, and men's and women's rodeo.
No doubt the college is considering availability of opponents (they struggle to fill their early-season, non-conference basketball schedules), availability of athletes, facilities, cost of travel for teams and officials, availability of coaches (who likely will also be required to teach) and general benefits to the school.
There's no question that athletics at CWC brings students to the campus who otherwise would not consider coming to Riverton for purely academic pursuits. Athletics adds a sense of enthusiasm and community for students, faculty and staff.
If it's the desire of the college to provide opportunities for the most Wyoming athletes, a decision to add baseball may be the best choice.
If Title IX requires, girls softball could be considered too.
No other Wyoming college (including the University of Wyoming) offers either sport, yet nine other schools competing in two divisions in CWC's Region IX have baseball teams. Ten Region IX schools offer softball. If it fielded quality programs, CWC immediately could compete for the top Wyoming athletes who want to play baseball and softball in college.
CWC owns a good facility in Roy Peck Field that could be made college baseball game-ready with little effort. The availability of the Hathaway scholarship would continue to help finance Wyoming student-athletes wanting to compete at CWC.
Soccer would be an easy sport to add (the college dabbled with club-level soccer a few years ago) but there are already four Wyoming community colleges that offer soccer. Wyoming high school soccer teams do not compete at a high enough level necessary to supply what would be a fifth junior college with college-capable soccer players. CWC would be forced to recruit more out of state if soccer were added to its athletic mix.
Golf also is a Region IX sport, and only Eastern Wyoming College in Torrington would compete with CWC in recruiting with non-Division I, but small-college capable, Wyoming golfers.
Gillette College offers cross country as a sport.
But baseball potentially could add more excitement to not only the campus, but the entire community. Although it is nearly impossible to support a college golf or cross country team in person as a fan, it wasn't too long ago when Roy Peck Field was filled with local fans watching quality baseball. Additional enthusiasm could be generated from literally across the street from the school's dorms with Rustlers swinging the big bats.
The JUCO World Series is held just a few hours south annually in Grand Junction, Colo.
Indirectly, a CWC baseball program also could give hope and inject excitement into Riverton's struggling American Legion baseball program.
The college should be given credit for surviving NJCAA sports sanctions, the firing of its men's basketball coach. and the reorganization of its athletic department while still having the desire to look at the benefits of adding more to its sports department.
But questions about whether the school can afford additional sports may ultimately tamper hopes of more athletes on the Riverton campus.
Have a great sports week. Go Big Red!
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