PROVO, Utah - President Merrill J. Bateman has announced the formation of an NCAA-sanctioned women's softball program at Brigham Young University. As the sixth women's softball team in the new Mountain West Conference, the BYU team will enter NCAA competition during the 1999-2000 season.
"For several years, BYU has supported an extramural women's softball program," said Bateman. "Because of the high interest and the ability to compete at the NCAA level, BYU is now ready to join the five other Mountain West Conference teams in Division I Competition. We are excited about this opportunity and fully expect to be competitive within our conference and the nation."
Elaine Michaelis, executive director of women's athletics, called this a "major step forward" for the women's sports program at BYU.
"We know there are quality students here who are interested in and capable of playing on a competitive, women's softball team," Michaelis said. "We are grateful to the administration for providing more opportunities for women athletes. This represents an important addition to the university's intercollegiate athletic program."
Michaelis added that a national search is now underway for the coach of the women's team. Once a coach is selected in mid-March, recruiting will begin.
BYU Advancement Vice President K. Fred Skousen noted that this new program is part of a continuing effort to provide equal opportunities in athletic participation for BYU's female and male student athletes.
"We are excited about adding high-quality women's teams," Skousen said. "The women's soccer team has become very competitive within a short time, and we expect to follow that same example with our new women's softball team."