In Part I of this article I talked about the history of the SWC and why the Texas schools didn’t establish gymnastics programs in the past. Now I’m going to talk about why they currently don’t. The answer is numbers. More specifically, the number of varsity teams every NCAA school has and how that demonstrates behavioral differences of the various NCAA schools compared to the Texas schools.
The NCAA schools with the most resources and greatest wealth are designated “P5.” Of the 65 P5 schools in the NCAA, roughly half of them (32) have women’s gymnastics programs. Those 32 schools average 22.7 varsity sports per school. The 12 Texas schools average only 16.8 varsity sports per school.
Texas doesn’t have women’s gymnastics programs because Texas schools in general have fewer sports teams than schools from other regions.
The schools willing to adopt women’s gymnastics are typically those who already sponsor a large number of varsity sports. The 32 gymnastics schools in the P5 average 22.7 varsity sports whereas the 33 non-gymnastics schools average only 19.4 varsity sports. This is not to say that every athletic program with a low number of sports doesn’t sponsor gymnastics and vice versa, only that this is the general trend. There are plenty of examples of schools with a low number of sports teams sponsoring gymnastics. There are also three schools with 27 or more sports teams (Duke, Boston College, and Virginia) that don’t sponsor gymnastics.
But the trend generally holds true.
-5 of 6 schools with 29 or more varsity teams have a gymnastics program.
-10 of 14 schools with 24 or more varsity teams have a gymnastics program.
-Only 5 of 22 schools with 19 or less varsity teams have a gymnastics program.
-Only 1 of 7 schools with less than 17 varsity teams has a gymnastics program.
The Texas schools simply don’t fit the profile of your typical NCAA gymnastics school. Of the 12 Texas schools, nine of them have fewer than 18 varsity sports. There are only three schools with women’s gymnastics programs at the P5 level that can say the same. But there is some hope for Texas college gymnastics.
Two decades after Arkansas left the SWC for the SEC, Texas A&M followed suit and joined the SEC themselves. Texas A&M now finds itself in a conference with a rich gymnastics tradition. The SEC could easily do for Texas A&M what it did for Arkansas. Spreading a gymnastics culture and convincing its athletic department to start a varsity program. But it also has something else.
At 20 varsity teams Texas A&M is the school that comes the closest to defying the trend of Texas schools having a smaller number of sports teams. The Aggies have two more sports than any other Texas school at the FBS level. Texas A&M is the Texas school that has both a great gymnastics hub in its conference and comes closest to fitting the profile of a gymnastics school. They even have a strong club program.
Whereas having a gymnastics program doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for most of the Texas schools, for Texas A&M, it does.