PROVO, Utah Starting next fall, BYU's women students will be able to participate for the first time in a National Collegiate Athletic Association softball program.
The university, which has supported an extramural women's softball program for several years, will enter NCAA competition during the 1999-2000 season as the sixth team in the new Mountain West Conference.
"Because of the high interest and the ability to compete at the NCAA level, BYU is now ready to join the five other Mountain West Conference teams in Division I competition," said Elder Merrill J. Bateman, BYU president. "We are excited about this opportunity and fully expect to be competitive within our conference and the nation."
Elaine Michaelis, executive director of women's athletics, called this a "major step forward" for the women's sports program at BYU.
"We know there are quality students here who are interested in and capable of playing on a competitive women's softball team," she said.
A national search is currently underway for the coach of the team. Once a coach is selected in mid-March, recruiting will begin.