April 12, 2014–
The History Of The USCTKD and the NCAA
by Nick Messersmith
The thought of developing Taekwondo as an NCAA sport has been around for years. In fact the WTF has been looking toward this goal for nearly a decade, and hoping that an American based organization would pick up the mantel to carry the torch forward for our sport, in our country. Finally, around 2016, the WTF began looking for someone to get the ball rolling. Since no one in the US had started this on their own they chose Mr. Ahn or the University of California at Berkley; an individual with the reputation of going things alone and getting things done without having to work with others. He had been successful in several other projects for Taekwondo in the past and had built the Taekwondo program at Berkley into a well-respected team.
Jump ahead 5 years to 2015… and a group of coaches are having an animated discussion on the USAT Coaches United FaceBook page about this very subject…
“Why is Taekwondo, an Olympic Sport, the fastest growing sport in the USA, NOT an NCAA sport? “
“Why has no one ever even looked into it” were most of the comments and questions. During this online discussion it was determined that there had been some effort but no one had any memory as to what the result had been or who had undertaken the effort. After hundreds of posts by dozens of participants, it was decided that a meeting would be held at US Nationals in Houston Texas to form an exploratory committee to determine if a more earnest effort were feasible. The group that met at Nationals consisted of Philip Herring, Arlene Limas, Sherman Nelson, Sir Gregory Salonas and Steven Decker. Greg Bew was part of the exploratory committee, but was not able to attend the meeting at Nationals.
Mr. Philip Herring was selected to lead the committee and to contact the NCAA. Over the next several weeks he spoke with several Directors and department heads, culminating with the Director of Membership Services, Women’s Athletics, Championships and Alliances Ms. Christian Fassbinder and the Director of Women’s Athletics – gender equity and gender equity taskforce.
During the final conference call on July 16, 2015 the NCAA Director of Membership Services provided consultations on NCAA process, time lines, best practices, and suggested that the best approach would be through the Women’s Athletics Division. This information proved invaluable and has been the basis of all efforts since.
These resources provided outstanding information, including a candid review of the past effort of Taekwondo to engage with the NCAA. Unfortunately, the past effort stalled after just a few inquiries and the sport did not seem to be ready to pursue an application.
Based upon this information the committee held several more conference calls, established a Facebook page, began soliciting applications for more participation form all sectors and made it clear to the taekwondo community that this would be a project for the sport of taekwondo and not just for a single person, group of people or league as has been the habit in the past for some parts of Taekwondo. The committee determined early on that this would not be allowed to be the case with NCAA and that NCAA taekwondo would be for the athletes, coaches, referees and officials and that each group and league would have an equal say and that all would have equal access to the information and proceedings. In fact as the organizations charter was developed and the USCT organization was founded a guiding principle was that the founders were simply founders and that the membership and the leagues built and populated by the members would be the true leaders of the organization.
During the last 9 months we are proud to say that we have not only met every goal established during our initial meetings and those since, we have exceeded them all.
Specifically, USCT, in the last 9 months has:
- Become a chartered organization,
- Developed a 220+ page NCAA application ready for draft submitting
- Started presenting to University Athletic Directors and Presidents
- Opened the basis for High School Taekwondo Leagues in 16 states and the District of Columbia,
- Held a beta test of the NCAA tournament rules at West Point Military academy with multiple collegiate teams and coaches in attendance with excellent results reported.
- Received confirmation as the submitting body for NCAA status in the USA by PATU,
- Started working with USAT toward a joint operating agreement for the submission of an NCAA application,
- Developed a robust and interactive website,
- Broadened its advisory Board and continues to bring on more members in an effort to maximize the diversity in its representation.
- And has partnered with Taekwondo Life Magazine to bring special NCAA content to the Taekwondo Community through the publication on a regular basis through both its print media and on line presence.
Going forward we look to increasing our interaction with the Taekwondo community, further engaging with women athletes, referees and coaches and to broadening our array of services and features provided to all of our members, and to brining your great content though both our website and though further features like this article and more here in Taekwondo Life Magazine!