Earlier this month, Duke University on the behalf of Vice President and Director of Athletics, Dr. Kevin White announced that they will add softball as a varsity sport. In addition to adding softball as a varsity sport, Duke will increase the number of available scholarship for women’s fencing, rowing, women’s swimming and diving, and women’s track and field to provide each program with the maximum limit of scholarships allowed by the NCAA.
“Duke University is fully committed to providing the most complete educational and athletic opportunities for women,” said White. “Adding both softball and new scholarships will enhance and enrich the collective experiences for female student-athletes. Specifically, softball will be a great addition to our varsity programs because it is played at highest level in the Atlantic Coast Conference.”
With the addition of softball, Duke increases its cumulative varsity sport program total from 26 to 27, with 13 men’s programs and 14 women’s sports.
The Department of Athletics is currently in the process of raising money to fund the program. The coaching staff is on schedule to be hired in 2016 and the recruiting process for the Blue Devils is set to begin then as well. Current plans have the softball program offering 12 scholarships, the NCAA maximum for softball. However, not all 12 scholarships will be awarded in the first year of the program.
The first phase of implementing softball as a varsity sport at the university includes brainstorming development strategies and working on constructing softball facilities. The anticipated date for first pitch for the university is in the spring of 2018.