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SOU adds sports for 2022-23

Raiders to compete in golf, cycling, beach volleyball and competitive cheer and dance

ASHLAND — The Raider family is officially growing again next fall.

Spurred by recommendations from the President’s Athletic Advisory Committee, the Southern Oregon University athletic department is set to add men’s and women’s golf as intercollegiate sports, and women’s beach volleyball, competitive cheer and dance, and cycling as varsity sports. The inaugural seasons for each will be held during the 2022-23 academic year.

Searches for head coaches to lead the programs are underway this month.

“The President’s Athletic Advisory Committee recommended these sports, among many, based on numerous factors like Title IX equity, enrollment, cost per student-athlete, facility costs, regional or conference competition, sport season, regional fit, and potential to add diversity to campus,” SOU athletics director Matt Sayre said. “This is the beginning of a great new chapter for SOU Athletics.”

The men’s and women’s golf teams will become SOU’s 14th and 15th NAIA intercollegiate sports. When they debut in the fall of 2022, they’ll give the Cascade Conference nine teams on the men’s side and eight on the women’s side.

Beach volleyball and competitive cheer and dance are also NAIA-sponsored sports and will initially compete regionally at the varsity level, with the former debuting next winter and the latter in the spring of 2023. Cycling — which covers mountain, cyclocross and road — will compete at the USA Cycling collegiate varsity level in regional competitions and eventually national championships, starting next fall and spring.

Added Sayre: “Beach volleyball is a rising sport across the nation and in the NAIA, and definitely has a cool factor to it. Cycling is a program that will thrive at SOU as it fits our region and culture so well. Golf is a strong sport in the Cascade Collegiate Conference year in and year out; SOU will jump right into that mix. And our already established cheer and dance club team will take that next step as a varsity program, competing against the best in the nation.”

The new sport additions will increase the number of student-athletes at SOU by approximately 80 in their first seasons.

SOU added new sports for the first time in 15 years in 2015-16 with the introductions of men’s soccer and women’s wrestling. The Raider men’s soccer team has gone 59-17-6 in Cascade Conference play and won three CCC championships, and the women’s wrestling team claimed the NAIA’s No. 1 ranking for the first time last week.