UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
June 1, 2023 - The University of Wisconsin-River Falls will reintroduce baseball and add men’s soccer as varsity sports beginning in the 2024-25 school year, part of the university’s plan to attract and retain more students on campus.
The university’s strategic enrollment management plan prioritizes the addition of sports as a way to recruit more students. Universities across Wisconsin are attempting to maintain enrollment amid a relatively low student population and financial challenges.
Students have many choices regarding where they attend college, and the addition of the two varsity sports gives them more reasons to choose UWRF, Chancellor Maria Gallo said.
“Men’s soccer and baseball will attract prospective students who are passionate about these sports, and that may influence their decision to choose UWRF over other universities,” Gallo said. “And as we know, students involved in sports strongly connect to the university and are more likely to stay engaged, thereby increasing retention. It is a win-win.”
UWRF Athletic Director Crystal Lanning said adding baseball and men’s soccer “are natural next steps” for Falcons athletics. Those programs will support the university’s strategic enrollment goals by attracting new student-athletes, she said.
“Baseball has a long tradition at UWRF, and I am excited for the opportunity to bring Falcon baseball back to the River Falls community,” Lanning said. “Additionally, men’s soccer has a strong base in the Twin Cities and Midwest region, and we are well positioned to build a highly competitive program.”
UWRF had a baseball team before it was discontinued in 2002. As a sign of interest in reviving the program, the university has been home to a club baseball team since 2017. Men’s soccer is a new varsity sport at UWRF.
UWRF will be the eighth school in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) to sponsor baseball and the fifth to sponsor men’s soccer. New head coaches for baseball and men’s soccer will be hired this summer, giving them a full year to recruit players and prepare for competition.
Adding sports teams to attract student-athletes has a track record of success in recent years at UWRF. The university added women’s lacrosse in 2017 and Esports in 2022. Both of those teams have brought additional students to campus, Lanning said.
For example, Esports will become a varsity sport in the fall, and the program has nearly doubled its 20-member team goal for its inaugural season. The Esports club grew from five members to more than 100 during the 2022-23 school year.
For more information, contact the UWRF Athletic Department at 715-425-3900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.