North Platte Community College athletic department will look to expand its intercollegiate athletic programs with the addition of men’s and women’s golf in the coming years.

The approval by the Board of Governors on Wednesday night will grow the athletic department from four varsity sports to six by the fall of 2024.

“As we gathered input for our next strategic enrollment plan, one of the most frequently noted items was the expansion of collegiate athletics,” said President Ryan Purdy. “Men’s and women’s golf was an obvious decision as we have several area schools that compete, and we have available housing capacity to accommodate those students.”

In the late 1940s, the National Junior College Athletic Association hosted the first men’s golf championship in Kansas City, Mo. The championship was then reclassified in 1968 as a national championship and moved to Roswell, N.M. Currently, the NJCAA has 73 teams competing in the NJCAA DII classification.

The NJCAA added women’s golf to the books in June 1976 as the first official championship took place in Temple, Texas.

The new Knights women’s golf team could compete in the DI or DIII classification, but enough interest from other NJCAA institutions could possibly create the DII classification prior to the addition of the athletic program in 2024. This DII classification would align the women’s golf program with the other women’s programs within the athletic department.

“Adding men’s and women’s golf programs will enhance our athletic department,” said Kevin O’Connor, the college’s athletic director. “We have seen a significant increase in the popularity of golf at the high school level, and we want to continue to provide opportunities for students to pursue their passions.”

The men’s program intends to tee off in the fall of 2023, with the women’s program to follow in 2024 once approval is granted by the NJCAA.

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