Fisk University adds Division 1 Gymnastics Team in 2023 (1st HBCU to do so as part of national initiative)

Fisk University, a historically Black university in Nashville, Tennessee, announced Friday its intention to launch the country’s first intercollegiate women’s artistic gymnastics team at a Historically Black College and University in a partnership with Brown Girls Do Gymnastics.

The NAIA Division I institution—part of a college athletics association for small colleges and universities in North America—will award athletic and merit scholarships and has a goal of entering into an independent conference and competing as a USAG nationals-eligible school starting with the 2023 season. A search for “an experienced collegiate gymnastics coach” has already begun, with the intention of having the role filled before level 10 nationals in May.

“We could not be more excited to launch the first HBCU intercollegiate women’s artistic gymnastics team,” said Fisk University president Vann Newkirk. “Fisk University has always been an educational leader, and this women’s gymnastics program will embody all the qualities that define the Fisk experience: excellence, determination and a commitment to a better tomorrow.”

Notable Fisk alumni include civil rights activists W.E.B. Dubois and John Lewis, dancer and choreographer Judith Jamison and poet Nikki Giovanni.

Since 2015, Brown Girls Do Gymnastics has been a driving force in advocating for gymnasts of color to have an opportunity to continue their athletic and academic careers in an inclusive environment like a HBCU. Fisk University joins a 7-year grassroots effort toward inclusion and the creation of new opportunities for gymnasts.

I wonder what conference Fisk will join. SEC makes sense but I don’t know if that will happen with Oklahoma coming soon. Or maybe they will remain independent since Gulf Coast Athletic Conference does not have a gymnastics conference (though no teams are independent any longer).
My other guess would be EAGL as that conference is made up of teams that don’t have a conference sponsoring gymnastics, plus ACC is forming and EAGL is losing Pitt, NCS, and UNC.

I am hoping the Brown Girls DO Gymnastics initiative continues to open more gymnastics programs at HBCU.
Alabama State and Florida A&M are in the Southwestern Conference but would be good in state rivals for Alabama/Auburn and Florida.
Howard (Mid Eastern Athletic Conference) and Morehouse (Southern Interscholastic Athletic Conference) are two high profile HBCU that I would love for gymnastics to be part of.
Maybe they could even form their own gymnastics conference along with Fisk.

Spelman College is typically the top ranked HBCU however, the school has eliminated their entire athletic program to focus on mental health and physical fitness initiatives.

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Fisk isn’t an NCAA member institution, so I’m curious how this is going to work. NAIA doesn’t sponsor gymnastics.

There’s no way SEC will take them. My guess is they’ll be D2 and Midwest Independent Conference.

I know. But who else will the compete against?
They specifically stated USAG nationals which is for small colleges and universities.
MIC makes sense. Fisk is in Tennessee so I just automatically went SEC in my brain.

It’s interesting to see another very small (<1,000 undergrad) school form a gymnastics team.

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So I read today that Fisk plans to compete next season (!!!) and do at least 5 meets. They also want to join the GEC, since that is a mix of D1 and D2 teams.

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These small schools generally have the typical teams of baseball, softball, basketball, soccer, track as they are generally less expensive sports and also are more common with the general population.

However, most of the smaller schools also develop a strong niche sport, whether it is curling, dance, acro and tumbling, fencing, squash, crew, water polo, sailing, lacrosse, etc. It usually draws in a particular group of student athletes.

In fact if you look at Acro and Tumbling other than University of Oregon (#3), Baylor (#1) the other 28 schools sponsoring it are all small universities and colleges.
Azusa Pacific (#2) is a smaller university (10,000 student half undergrad/half grad) and the Acrobatics and Tumbling team is a huge draw for them and very popular at the university level. They faced Baylor in the final round at Nationals last year and came just short of clinching their first title.
Oregon and Baylor are the only team champions.

It also helps that Fisk is a HBCU and is also being helped along by Brown Girls Do Gymnastics initiative.

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I love this!!! :woman_cartwheeling:t5::woman_cartwheeling:t5::woman_cartwheeling:t5:

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They’ve hired Corrine Wright Tarver as coach.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Ca5Q-BdpuTb/

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Awesome! Former NCAA AA champion at UGA and also former USA national team member.

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