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NCAA Triathlon FAQ


Background of Establishing Women’s Triathlon

What is an Emerging Sport for Women?
An emerging sport is a women’s sport recognized by the NCAA that is intended to help schools provide more athletics opportunities for women, sport sponsorship options for institutions and help that sport achieve NCAA championship status.

What is NCAA championship status?

NCAA championship status is achieved separately by each Division. To achieve NCAA championship status for Division I and II, there must be a minimum of 40 varsity NCAA programs for the specific sport.  Division III NCAA championship status requires only 28 varsity programs for team sports.

What does the difference between an Emerging Sport and an NCAA championship sport mean for Women’s Triathlon?

  1. Institutions are allowed to use emerging sports to help meet the membership minimum sports sponsorship requirements as well as, in Division I and II, minimum financial aid requirements, and gender equity compliance standards for varsity sports.
  2. Bylaws require that emerging sports must gain championship status within 10 years or show steady progress toward that goal to remain on the list as an Emerging Sport for Women.
  3. Until Women’s Triathlon has been awarded NCAA championship status, the National Championship must not contain the words “NCAA” and will be called the Collegiate Varsity Women’s National Championship.

How was Women’s Triathlon named to the NCAA Emerging Sport for Women list?

  1. The process of instituting Women’s Triathlon as an NCAA Emerging Sport started in 2009 by Brad Hecker and Jeff Dyrek.
  2. In April 2013, the Committee on Women’s Athletics voted to recommend that Division I, II, and III all sponsor legislation to add triathlon as an Emerging Sport for Women.
  3. Prior to the vote by the NCAA, a minimum of ten (10) letters of interest in Women’s Triathlon had to be signed by the President of the respective Institution. USA Triathlon exceeded this requirement by garnering twelve (12) letters of interest.
    1. These letters of interest are NOT contractual commitments by the intuitions to implement Women’s Triathlon programs. They merely state the interest and support of Women’s Triathlon as an NCAA varsity program.
  4. On January 16 (Division I) and January 18 (Division II and III), 2014, women’s triathlon was overwhelmingly approved by the NCAA Legislative Council at the 2014 NCAA Convention in San Diego, California.
What is the difference between a Club Triathlon program and an NCAA Triathlon program?
  1. The main difference between a Club and NCAA triathlon program is that the NCAA Women’s Triathlon programs are an institutionally-sponsored sport. This means that they are part of the athletic department of the collegiate institution and therefore NCAA Women’s Triathlon program student-athletes and coaches must abide by all NCAA and institution legislation. This legislation encompasses a variety of topics including recruiting restrictions, scholarships, amateurism, training hour limits, and anti-drug policies to name a few.
  2. The Collegiate Club draft-legal, non-draft legal and mixed team relay races will not be affected or changed at the Collegiate National Championships.
  3. Collegiate National Championships will still be held in the spring, while NCAA varsity season will be in the fall.
  4. Student-athletes who participate on institute-funded varsity triathlon programs are not permitted, per NCAA legislation, to compete with the institution’s club team. This rule goes for all Division I, II, and III programs.

Do institutions have to pick whether they will have a Club or NCAA program? Is it one or the other?
No, these are two separately functioning programs and the institution of an NCAA program does not mean the removal of the Club program. Regarding the status of the club and NCAA programs, decisions will be made by each collegiate institution, but there are no overarching requirements regarding the removal of Club for the institution of an NCAA program.

What athletic scholarships are available for Women’s Triathlon student-athletes?

  1. For the 2014-2015 academic year, a Women’s Triathlon program is allowed the equivalence of 3.5 scholarship.
    1. 2015-2016 academic year - 4.5 scholarships
    2. 2016-2017 academic year -5.5 scholarships
    3. 2017-2018 academic year - 6.5 scholarships
  2. Women’s triathlon is an equivalency sport, meaning partial scholarships may be awarded to student-athletes.


When will Women’s Triathlon competition begin as an NCAA Emerging Sport?
The inaugural season of NCAA Women’s Triathlon will begin in fall, 2014. The first date of allowed competition is September 1, 2014.

What is the format and distances of NCAA Women’s Triathlon competitions?

  1. NCAA Women’s Triathlon competitions will be a draft-legal event. The Collegiate Varsity Women’s National Championship will be a 750 m Open Water Swim, 20k Bike, and 5k Run with a maximum of 75 athletes in the varsity draft-legal event.
  2. During regular-season events
    1. The swim course total distance can vary up to 150m +/- and may be either a pool or open water event.
    2. The bike course total distance can vary up to 1k +/-.
    3. The run course total distance can vary up to 250m +/-.

Are there any equipment restrictions?

  1. Yes, all NCAA Women’s Triathlon student-athletes must abide by the following equipment rules for NCAA competition.
    1. Bike
      1. Traditional road bike
      2. Drop handle bars
      3. No aerobars
    2. Tires
      1. Diameter between 70cm max and 55cm minimum (including tire)
      2. Both wheels of equal diameter
      3. Have at least 16 spokes
      4. Spokes can be round, flattened, or oval, provide width does not except 2.4mm
      5. Maximum rim dimension 25mm on each side
      6. Wheels not in compliance with above are allowed if they are included in the current UCI Non-Standard Wheel List.
      7. No disc wheels allowed
    3. Helmet
      1. Non-aero
      2. Undamaged/unaltered
      3. CPSC sticker intact
  2. Are there guidelines for team uniforms?
    1. Yes, an NCAA athlete’s uniform must follow the following guidelines
      1. Must cover torso at all times
      2. Be a 1 piece or swimsuit
      3. If front zipper exists, it must remain up
    2. What graphics are allowed on a uniform?
      1. Appropriate uniform graphics are currently under review and will be communicated once graphic guidelines have been established.

How many events will constitute a NCAA Women’s Triathlon competition season?

  1. During the NCAA season, Women’s Triathlon teams must compete in a minimum of 4 competitions and a maximum of 6.
  2. National Championships do not count against this total.

In season, how many student-athletes must compete in each NCAA Women’s Triathlon competition?

  1. A maximum of five (5) athletes can compete in an NCAA draft-legal race. Scoring is based off the first three (3) finishers from each team, which is further explained below.
  2. Remaining athletes on the roster have the opportunity to compete in Novice non-draft legal waves.

How will scoring be calculated?

  1. Scoring will be modeled after a cross country scoring system, where the lowest score wins. All triathletes who finish a race will be given an overall-finish place. However, only the first three (3) on any one team will be counted in scoring.
  2. An order for team-finish placing will be established by removing all triathletes behind the top three finishers on each team. Consequently, teams not finishing at least three athletes will not be included in the order of team finish
  3. Team scoring will be calculated by totaling the points of the first three finishing triathletes on each team, the lowest number of points shall be the winner.
  4. Although the 4th and 5th triathletes on a team to finish do not score points toward their team’s total, their places, if better than those of any of the first three of an opposing team, serve to increase the team score of the opponents.

What will be the structure for Regional Qualifications?

  1. Between September and October there will be three (3) National Championship Qualification events (which are to be determined) that will be situated in three regions, East, Central and West. Teams must race in their respective region to qualify, yet if there is space teams are allowed to race (not for qualification) in the other regions. All teams will be eligible for their regional qualifier.
  2. The format will be a 750m open water swim, 20k bike, and 5k run.

When will the Collegiate Varsity Women’s National Championship be held?
The Collegiate Varsity Women’s National Championship will be held the first full weekend in November. It will be a 750m open water swim, 20k bike, and 5k run.

Will there be a qualification system for the Collegiate Varsity Women’s National Championship?

  1. Yes, 75 athletes will qualify for the Collegiate Varsity Women’s National Championship. The top 4 five-person teams from each three regional qualifiers (totaling 60 athletes) as well as the top 5 individuals from each regional qualifier who are not on a qualifying team (totaling 15 athletes) will all qualify to compete in the Collegiate Varsity Women’s National Championship.
  2. Selection of athletes to fill any unfilled team or individual positions after qualification will be filled by the Coaches Association.

What if there are not enough programs established in 2014 to hold a Collegiate Varsity Women’s National Championship?
A decision will be made closer to November regarding if this event will be held as a National Championship, or in the absence of Institution-funded programs, this event would be produced as an exhibition event where individuals may be invited in regardless of NCAA program affiliation and regional qualification process.


Initial Eligibility

Do I need to do anything to be eligible to compete for an NCAA Women’s Triathlon program?
Yes. In order to be eligible to complete for a Division I and II Institution-funded Women’s Triathlon program you must register and be cleared through the NCAA Eligibility Center.

What is the NCAA Eligibility Center and what do they look for?
The NCAA Eligibility Center is established to verify whether prospective college student-athletes are eligible to compete in sports at NCAA Division I or II institutions. This is determined through review of the student-athlete’s academic record, SAT or ACT scores, and amateur status to ensure conformity with NCAA rules.

When do prospective student-athletes have to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center?

  1. The NCAA recommends that prospective student-athletes register at the beginning of their junior year in high school, but there is no registration deadline.
  2. Students must be registered and cleared by the Eligibility Center before they receive athletic scholarships or compete at a Division I or II institution.

Do you still need to register with the NCAA Eligibility Center if you are a current college student?
Yes. Any individual who seeks to participate in NCAA competition must be registered with the NCAA Eligibility Center regardless if they are already enrolled at a collegiate institution. Therefore, any current collegiate students who wish to join an NCAA Women’s Triathlon program must register and be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center.

Where do I register for the NCAA Eligibility Center?
You can create a log in and register at the NCAA Eligibility Center site.

Are there resources available that provide a synopsis of all NCAA Initial-Eligibility Requirements for future student-athletes?
Yes. Division I, II, and II all have their own Initial-Eligibility requirements, and all information can be found online at

  1. You can find the Division I Initial-Eligibility Toolkit here.
  2. You can find the Division II Initial-Eligibility Toolkit here.
  3. You can find the Division III Initial-Eligibility Toolkit here.

I am currently enrolled as a full-time student at a collegiate institution, are there standards I must meet to be eligible while participating on an Institution-funded Women’s Triathlon program?
Yes, the NCAA provides a page for all current student-athletes with information on remaining eligible throughout your collegiate years. Please follow this link to access all information on remaining eligible as a current student-athlete.


With the institution of NCAA Triathlon, both prospective and current student-athletes must follow NCAA legislation for each respective division, whether they are a current student-athlete or a prospective student-athlete for participation in an institution’s Women’s Triathlon program. Each division has a published NCAA Manual (see links below) that you may use to inquire about any questions you may have regarding all NCAA topics including

  1. Article 12: Amateurism
  2. Article 13: Recruiting
  3. Article 14: Eligibility: Academic and General Requirements
  4. Article 15: Financial Aid
  5. Article 16: Awards, benefits and Expenses for Enrolled Student-Athletes
    1. Also provides information for prospective student-athletes

2013-2014 NCAA Division I Manual
2013-2014 NCAA Division II Manual
2013-2014 NCAA Division III Manual

Please contact Jess Luscinski at with any inquiries regarding awards and prizes for both current and prospective student-athletes and the associated NCAA Legislation.

What is an “actual and necessary expense”?

  1. NCAA legislation often references the term “exceeds actual and necessary expenses” when determining the permissibility of what a current and prospective student-athlete can receive.
  2. Actual and necessary expenses are limited to
    1. Meals
    2. Lodging
    3. Apparel, equipment and supplies
    4. Coaching and instruction
    5. Health/medical insurance
    6. Transportation involving the sporting event and training
    7. Medical treatment and physical therapy
    8. Entry fees
    9. Facility usage
    10. Other reasonable expenses
  3. Actual and necessary expenses are computed on a full calendar year.

How are “actual and necessary expenses” applied to prizes I may have received?
Actual and necessary expenses are computed on a full calendar year. Therefore, all prize money and items may not exceed the above actual and necessary expenses for a full calendar year of competition and training.

What are nonpermissible benefits? (Also known as impermissible benefits)

  1. Per NCAA legislation, a student-athlete may not receive any extra benefit. The term “extra benefit” refers to anything that a student-athlete (or his relatives or friends) receives from the Institution or the Institution’s representatives that is not available to the general student body, unless NCAA rules specifically permit a particular benefit.
  2. A student-athlete may not receive extra benefits or services, including, but not limited to
    1. A loan of money
    2. A guarantee of bond
    3. An automobile or the use of an automobile
    4. Transportation, except permitted by Bylaw 16.9.1, even if the student-athlete reimburses the institution or the staff member for the appropriate amount of the gas or expense
    5. Signing or co-signing a note with an outside agency to arrange a loan
  3. Nonpermissible benefits are explained in Bylaw 16.11.2


Can I compete in other NCAA varsity sports in addition to Women’s Triathlon?

  1. Yes, student-athletes are allowed to compete in multiple varsity sports, however, for prospective student-athletes you must understand the recruiting rules for each respective sport you wish to participate in.
  2. It is also important to understand the NCAA rules associated with competing in multiple sports. You will need to work closely with each respective sport’s coach as well as your institution’s compliance department to ensure all parties are in agreement and compliance.


Can I compete with an amateur team outside of my college team during the NCAA season?
No. Any competition on a team besides a collegiate team during the NCAA season renders the student-athlete ineligible for the remainder of the season with the institution’s team.

Can I compete with an amateur team outside of my college team during the summer?
Yes, there are no limitations on this.

Is there a limit of how many fellow student-athletes from my institution can compete on the same amateur team during the summer?
No, there are no limitations on the number of student-athletes from the same institution competing on the same amateur team during the summer.

How many coaches will there be for each institution’s Women’s Triathlon program?

  1. The NCAA allows for 2 coaches and one volunteer coach per discipline for Women’s Triathlon.
  2. Actual staffing will be determined by each respective institution.

Are there any required certifications to be a collegiate coach?
Currently there are not any NCAA Women’s Triathlon-specific certifications required to be a collegiate coach at an Institution-funded program.

Where can I find a list of institutions that are sponsoring varsity programs?
Resources regarding which institutions are sponsoring Women’s Triathlon programs will be available at

Is there a list of institutions that have already been approached in regards to establishing a Women’s Triathlon program?

  1. For information regarding institutions that have been approached by USA Triathlon or approved representatives please contact Jess Luscinski at
  2. If you have already spoken to an institution, we’re interested in hearing about it! Please contact Jess Luscinski at

Do I have any restrictions on when I can coach my team?
Yes. All NCAA sports have legislation establishing in season and out of season protocols in NCAA Bylaw 17. Make sure you are working with your institution’s compliance department to ensure you remain in compliance with the NCAA.

Should I approach my institution’s athletic department to discuss starting a Women’s Triathlon program?
This answer depends on several factors, and when considering approaching an athletic department, it’s imperative that you have the answers or an understanding of the following questions:

  1. What is your relationship with the Athletic Department?
  2. Has the Athletic Department recently instated a sport?
  3. What does the Athletic Department’s financial budget look like?
  4. What is the Athletic Department’s Title IX compliance status?
  5. What facilities are available that would make a Women’s Triathlon program be advantageous?
  6. What facilities are available that would make a Women’s Triathlon program disadvantageous?

What is your reasoning for wishing to speak with this specific athletic department?
You need to have a well-structured and founded reasoning for speaking with the athletic department of your choice. This is important because it will require more than sport knowledge to be successful, you must represent the institution as well.

What information should I present to a collegiate Athletic Department when I speak to them about Women’s Triathlon programming?

  1. The informational content that you present to the chosen Athletic Department must be customized and tailored to the specific institution. This means the scholarships must be crafted around the institution’s tuition costs, the facility costs calculated off of what facility structures exist or do not exist, and what the potential athlete talent pool infrastructure looks like.
  2. More information in the form of a resource document will be made available soon, and we thank you for your patience as we consult the appropriate parties to collaborate and ensure we have formed the most all-encompassing, accurate, and helpful resource document for you.

If I become a Collegiate Triathlon Coach for an Institution-funded program, can I coach any other teams?

  1. Institution-funded team and the same institution’s club team?
    Per a September 4, 2013, educational column, an institutional coaching staff member coaching a club team of current student-athletes (SA) is contrary to 17.02.12 and therefore is not permissible.  Specifically, NCAA playing and practice session legislation (Bylaw 17) does not preclude a coach from attending or observing organized competition involving enrolled students and/or student-athletes, provided the coach does not direct or supervise the organized activity.  However, a coach is not permitted to observe enrolled students or student-athletes in nonorganized sport-specific competition (e.g., "pick-up" basketball games) outside the playing season.
  2. Institution-funded team and a different institution’s club team?
    An institutional coaching staff member may be involved with an outside team that includes students and/or student-athletes from other four-year institutions. However, if the coach's institution has received permission to contact a particular student-athlete, then it is not permissible for the coach to be involved with an outside team that includes that student-athlete because NCAA recruiting rules begin to apply once the institution receives permission to contact per Bylaw
  3. Institution-funded team and a club (non-collegiate) team that’s in recruiting ages?
    An institution’s coaching staff member could only coach a club team that includes prospective student-athletes (see Bylaw 13.02.12) if the local sports club legislation (Bylaw is satisfied.
  4. Institution-funded team with a club (non-collegiate) team that’s not in recruiting ages? (Out of college age or under a certain age-not sure if NCAA has minimum age restrictions where athletes are not considered recruiting prospects)
    While there isn’t a “recruiting age”, Bylaw 13.02.12 defines a prospective student-athlete (PSA) for the purposes of NCAA legislation.  An institution’s coaching staff member is not precluded from coaching a club team made of adults and/or non-PSAs.