At a time when some colleges are dropping sports, Russell Sage College will be adding some sports.
Having discontinued the men’s tennis program, the school announced on Monday that it would be adding varsity teams in baseball and women’s golf, as well as esports to bring its total number of varsity offerings to 21.
Sage, which has added 16 teams since 2008, plans to field a baseball team in the spring of 2022 as a member of the Empire 8 conference, and the esports program will begin competition during the 2021-22 academic year.
Women’s golf will begin play in the fall of 2021 in the Northeast Women’s Golf Conference and will be coached by Sage men’s golf head coach Kevin Cain.
“The addition of baseball, esports and women’s golf will fit in well with our growing athletic department,” Sage athletic director Sandy Augstein-Collins said in a release. “These teams have the potential to increase enrollment at Russell Sage College by at least 63 student-athletes.”
Augstein-Collins noted that baseball is the third-most popular sport offering for high school males behind basketball and track and field, and women’s golf participation has increased 10% in the last five years.
In esports, Sage will join the National Association of Collegiate Sports (NACE), which has over 170 member schools and is the primary organizational body for college esports. The NCAA voted last year not to serve in that role.
“Growing our athletic programs goes hand in hand with growing the institution as a whole,” Sage president Chris Ames said in the release. “And the addition of esports complements the importance of video game development to the Capital District’s entrepreneurial economy.”
Sage will conduct national searches to hire head coaches a year in advance of competition so they can start recruiting.
In light of financial uncertainty because of the impact on college sports by the COVID-19 pandemic, some programs at all levels have been dropped, and schools are examining athletic department budgets to see where cuts can be made.