RIO GRANDE, Ohio — The list of athletic programs sponsored by the University of Rio Grande is officially becoming a bit longer.
School officials announced Tuesday that golf and bowling — for both men and women — will be added beginning with the start of the 2017-18 school year.
“We are committed to moving forward to carry on our growth in athletics and to continue to strive for both athletic and academic excellence,” said Rio Grande athletic director Jeff Lanham. “The addition of golf and bowling meets our pledge to enhance the Rio experience through athletics and is another opportunity to show our ‘Rio Pride’.”
The additions were approved late last week during a meeting of the school’s Board of Trustees.
Rio Grande, which is a member of the NAIA’s River States Conference, currently sponsors 11 athletic programs — Men’s and Women’s Soccer, Women’s Volleyball, Men’s and Women’s Cross Country, Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Men’s and Women’s Track & Field, Baseball and Softball.
“We are continually striving to develop avenues through which we can attract students to our campus and I think that the addition of these sports can assist us in that regard,” said Dr. Michelle Johnston, President of the University of Grande and Rio Grande Community College. “While academics will always be our primary focus, we also realize the integral role that athletics plays in the overall college experience. We are excited to add these teams to our portfolio of athletics programs.”
Golf will actually be making a return to Rio’s athletic offerings for the first time in nearly 40 years, while bowling will be making its debut.
“Rio last had a golf program in the late 1970’s. We can compete in the River States Conference on both the men’s and women’s side right away,” Lanham said. “Bowling is an up-and-coming intercollegiate sport. The pool of high school graduates participating in bowling is on the rise in the state of Ohio. Now we can be a part of their journey and provide the opportunity for them to compete at an intercollegiate level.”
According to Lanham, Rio Grande is planning on being an independent for at least one year with the possibility of moving into conference play as an associate member in the near future — since the River States Conference doesn’t currently offer bowling among its championship sports.
Lanham also added that a coaching search for both programs is now underway.
Student-athletes who would like to be considered for either program are encouraged to contact the Rio athletic department at (740) 245-7293.
Randy Payton is the Sports Information Director for the University of Rio Grande