(AUSTIN - June 21) To the surprise of many, the University of Texas today announced that it would field men's and women's varsity skiing team**, beginning with the 2011-12 academic year.
Flanked by John Skipper, ESPN's Executive Vice President for Content, Texas Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds made the announcement before assembled media. Dodds didn't commit on who the team's new coach would be, but anonymous sources within Bellmont inform this writer that Greg Davis will be tapped to coach the slalom.***
Dodds also announced that Texas would be appealing to the NCAA to shorten the traditional skiing season from its normal November-March timeframe to "whenever Mount Bonnell [the Horns' temporary home until the Red McCombs Whataburger Ski Dome Sponsored By Taco Bell is completed in 2013] has snow on it," explaining that "it's a national sport, but the college part of it is really not alive and well in the warm-weather parts of the country."
Dodds also announced UT's intention to have the NCAA Skiing tournament restructured on a more strictly regional basis so that a Sun Belt school like Texas wouldn't be at a disadvantage having to compete against schools from states whose climates allow for a lengthier skiing season when trying to qualify for the Championship. In the alternate, Dodds stated that he would seek to expand the the number of teams which qualify for the Championship by two teams, reserving thise two extra spots for teams from warm-weather climates.
Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman voiced support for Dodds' push to reserve spots during championship weekend for teams from warm weather climates. "It does seem to me forcing schools to play against northern schools as an entry point into the College Skiing Championship, well, you just have to look at the numbers."
Vermont head skiing coach Bill Reichelt, on the other hand, scoffed at Dodds' plans.
"You can grasp at straws like DeLoss does and play the ‘Oh, poor us' piece because we have bad weather," Reichelt said. "Maybe somebody will go for it, but I don't think so."
Dodds hinted at another possibility if he failed to get his way on reserving spots for Sun Belt schools on Championship weekend: secede, along with the other Sun Belt skiing schools, from the NCAA and compete for their own championship.
(*: Not really.)
(**: The things you learn when drafting a satirical piece on BON. That is "team", not "teams". It looks like the NCAA team championship in skiing is awarded to a joint men's and women's team. Is this the only joint championship in the NCAA?)
(*** And if you want more great anonymous sourcing like that, just pay me an extra $10 a month, and I'll give you all the anonymous tips I can dream up!)