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The Journal Gazette

Friday, October 26, 2018 1:00 am

PFW to add men's track teams

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Purdue Fort Wayne will field men's indoor and outdoor track and field teams beginning in the fall 2019 season, the university announced Thursday. The university took more than a year to plan for the addition of the two new sports.

Adding indoor and outdoor track for men means the Mastodons' athletic department will field 16 teams, eight men's and eight women's.

Men's track was previously eliminated in 2003.

“We looked at the financial self-sustainability, potential impact on our other teams, coaches, and support staff, and compliance with Title IX in the decision-making process,” athletic director Kelley Hartley Hutton said in a press release. “We also considered the popularity of track and field in our region. We truly could not be happier.”

The coach of the new teams will be Ashley Botham, who already coaches the women's indoor and outdoor track teams, the women's cross-country team and the men's cross-country team. Botham, who was a standout track athlete at Grand Valley State and Belmont, joined the PFW athletic department in December 2017 after stints as a coach at Belmont, Florida State and IUPUI.

“Adding men's track allows us to increase enrollment and bring in students who will help elevate this university to the next level, both academically and athletically,” Botham said. “The city of Fort Wayne has a strong track and field presence, and we are excited to offer this opportunity to the local community and beyond.”

“We are ready to get to work and make this program the best it can be,” she added.

The university estimated the two new sports will bring 70 new athletes to the school by the second year of the program. That would add more than 33 percent to PFW's current total of 205 athletes.

“This is just one more enhancement as we continue to position Purdue Fort Wayne as the first choice for prospective students seeking a first-rate college education,” Chancellor Ron Elsenbaumer said.

dsinn@jg.net