Categorized | Featured, Men's Gymnastics, NCAA

Change in Population of Men’s & Women’s NCAA Gymnastics Teams (1981-2016)

Posted on 02 May 2017 by admin

By Shelli Koszdin

“In the end, our society will be defined not only what by what we create, but by what we refuse to destroy.”

John C Sawhill, president, The Nature Conservancy, 1990 – 2000.

The graph shown below starts from 1981-82, as the data collected by the NCAA from 1956 until 1981 was not collected in the same manner as the post 1981 data and included recreational programs. The largest number of men’s gymnastics teams recorded by the NCAA between 1956 and 1981 was 124 in 1971-72. There is a discrepancy between this and the 200 plus teams that are said to have once existed. The simplest explanation is the “missing” teams were not in the NCAA, but in the NAIA, NCJCAA, and other non-NCAA athletic associations (environments where to the best of my knowledge men’s gymnastics no longer exists).

The population of women’s NCAA gymnastics teams decreased at close to the same rate at the men’s until about 1992.  What factors intrinsic to the sport of gymnastics itself might have caused this?

Title lX was surely a factor in the decline of men’s NCAA gymnastics, but there was also a net decline in men’s teams from 1984 to mid-1988.  During that time, Title lX was not being applied to athletics because of a Supreme Court decision in Grove City College v. Bell (later “overturned” by Congress).

One cause that can be ruled out is the change from the 10.0 to open-ended scoring, as the changeover occurred in 2008, by which time the majority of men’s NCAA gymnastics teams were already extinct.











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2 Comments For This Post

  1. George Chung Says:

    “The population of women’s NCAA gymnastics teams decreased at close to the same rate at the men’s until about 1992.”

    In general, the simple answer is likely due to the tail end of the “baby boomers” generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) and nothing intrinsic about the sport of gymnastics. i.e. pure difference in population thing

    Furthermore, even if you don’t buy into the population numbers, if you compare the participation data in Men’s NCAA DivI between 85-86 and 88-89 years for all sports, most sport teams also declined, not just Gymnastics.

    Interesting enough, the same cannot be said for the Women’s NCAA DivI. Most sport teams increased comparing the same participation years.

  2. Mike Jacki Says:

    Disagree… had nothing to do with Baby Boomers… had to do with colleges needing more and more money for football and basketball so they dropped sports as quickly as they could !!! The women lost 100 programs during the time the men lost 60… yes, the women had more programs than the men… but Title lX did not help the women at all… it was used as an excuse for AD’s to drop sports. When Temple dropped 7 sports ( 4 men and 3 women’s, including men’s gymnastics…) they blamed Title lX… they lost $9 million that year in football !!!

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