It is no secret that I think a university in Texas should have a NCAA Division I gymnastics program. Ideally, the school would have both Men’s and Women’s programs. I am currently in the midst of the long, arduous and detailed process of creating a proposal for the University of Texas and Texas A&M University to add a D-I gymnastics program at least for women.

The University of Texas System (which includes campuses in Austin, Tyler, San Antonio, Dallas, Arlington, El Paso, Brownsville, Odessa and Edinburg) has an endowment of more than $12 BILLION. Yes. Billion. With a “B.”

The Texas A&M University system (campuses in College Station, Prairie View, Stephenville, Laredo, Killeen, Commerce, Corpus Christi, Kingsville, San Antonio, Texarkana and Canyon) has an endowment of more than $5 billion.

The Texas Tech University System (campuses is Lubbock and San Angelo [Angelo State University]) has a much smaller endowment of just over $770 million.

I highly doubt money would be a legitimate issue for the University of Texas or for Texas A&M. Both schools pride themselves on being both academically and athletically exceptional. I has been suggested that the reason for the demise of the University of Texas’ former women’s program was due to the inability of the university to find a good, strong, effective coach. I doubt that would be a major issue today, though. There are likely dozens of talented, capable, effective coaches in the United States who would absolutely love the opportunity to lead a brand new D-I program in a conference that is dwindling (Big 12) and realistically lead it to national prominence. I know I would love that opportunity.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just gung-ho about starting a program without doing all of the research and evaluating all outcomes and costs and the hundreds of other variables that would certainly go into this sort of undertaking. I fully understand that it would take a few years of planning, building, fund-raising, recruiting, evaluating, hiring, firing, and all of that jazz to even get this off the ground. It is a massive undertaking, but I think it could be well worth it.

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As far as fan support goes, there are dozens of gymnastics clubs within a comfortable driving distance of Austin (comfortable being between an hour and and hour-and-a-half, by Texas standards) with hundreds of little girls who are enamored with the sport. Marketing strategy a-la Greg Marsden of Utah would be necessary. Recruitment of strong, capable gymnasts will definitely be required. The athletes don’t have to be Olympians, World Team members or Internationally experienced. Those things don’t matter. What matters is the ability to put together four strong, 10.0 start value, consistent, clean, exciting routines that can bring in strong scores and make the program nationally competitive.

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The recruiting pool in Texas is enormous. According to CollegeGymFans.com, there are 39 gymnasts graduating from Texas high schools in 2012, 34 in 2013 and 18 listed so far for 2014. That is at least 91 gymnasts in the next three years who will graduate from high school and be eligible for gymnastics  scholarships. That is not to mention the younger girls who are working toward level 9/10/Elite in the state who will become eligible later this year and early next year for 2012-2015. There is a seemingly unlimited talent pool in Texas.

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Of those 49 Texan gymnasts competing in the NCAA right now (in Division I, 13 in D-II, 1 in D-III), 10 are at schools in border states (5 at the University of Oklahoma (10.2%), 2 at the University of Arkansas (4.1%), and 3 at Louisiana State (6.1%)).

That is 20.4% of Texas-grown NCAA gymnasts at schools close to Texas. This does not include the 4 gymnasts at D-II school Centenary in Louisiana or the 9 gymnasts at D-II school Texas Woman’s University, which brings the total number of Texas gymnasts to 62.

23 of those 62 (37.1%) are immediately adjacent to Texas. The remaining 62.9% are spread out all over the country.

I don’t know about any of you, but that seems like a good reason to have collegiate gymnastics in Texas in Division I.

With that much talent available, it would seemingly make sense to have a D-I program in the state to keep Texas-grown talent in Texas.

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I’ll jump off my soapbox now.

Any support for my proposal or for NCAA gymnastics in Texas in general will be greatly appreciated.:)

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