NYU is planning to expand its sports program by adding both baseball and softball to its current list of varsity-level teams, director of athletics Christopher Bledsoe said. Beginning in fall 2014, the two programs will make the transition from intramural teams to NCAA Division III varsity sports. The move is part of a larger plan to merge the NYU Poly and NYU athletic programs under one banner.
The funding for NYU varsity sports comes directly from the athletic department’s budget. The intramural baseball and softball teams currently rely on this budget for expenses such as transportation to and from games as well as renting spaces to practice and play. The varsity teams will still lease, permit and borrow both public and private sports and recreation facilities in the tri-state area. They will also continue to take full advantage of athletic facilities in Brooklyn and Manhattan that are owned and operated by the university.
“It’s nice that NYU is working on its sports programs but I’m not sure if varsity baseball and softball will garner enough interest with students,” Steinhardt junior Katherine Shaoul said.
However, Bledsoe believes the existing club and varsity teams will build a healthy base of players for their Division III counterparts next fall.
“NYU Poly already has varsity baseball and softball teams [and] NYU already has intercollegiate club baseball and softball teams,” Bledsoe said. “We believe people on those teams will want to try out. In addition, we expect to have classes of recruited freshman and new students.”
The athletics department is currently looking for a location for a convenient location for both teams to play.
“We are going through exactly the same process that we use for [all our sports],” Bledsoe said. “We identify the best quality field, located proximate to our campus … and are available to lease.”
CAS junior Sagar Gambhir said varsity sports are important for building a sense of community among students.
“Students going to NYU have been deprived of a conventional feel of togetherness under a team banner,” he said.
NYU is waiving its current prohibition on simultaneously funding varsity and club sports through 2016, so that the baseball and softball teams can continue to exist the next two and a half years if there is enough student interest, Bledsoe said.
NYU Junior Caitlin Ryan, a current player on the club softball team, said she hoped NYU would keep the club team.
“I think it’s cool that there is going to be a varsity softball team,” she said. “It would be nice to still be able to play competitively without the intensity or pressure of a varsity sport.”
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Sept. 19 print edition. Brittany Yu is a contributing writer. Email her at email@example.com.