The University of Kentucky is adding the sport of STUNT to its varsity athletics program, Director of Athletics Mitch Barnhart announced this week.
STUNT is a head-to-head competition between two teams that focuses on the technical and athletic aspects of cheer. It is one of the fastest-growing female sports in the United States. Kentucky is one of 56 universities, including NCAA and NAIA varsity and club teams, that are sponsoring the sport for the 2022 season. Nine more schools are committed to begin in 2023.
Kentucky has a club team in place, with many of those athletes expected to become part of the first varsity squad. STUNT will be the 23rd varsity team sponsored by UK, which has the largest sports lineup among Southeastern Conference schools.
“We’re excited to add STUNT to our varsity program,” Barnhart said. “It is enjoying rapid growth and we believe the University of Kentucky can be a leader in this emerging sport.
“There is very strong support for cheer at UK, in our community and across the Commonwealth. Our goal is to provide competitive opportunities for these young women while building a team that will contend for national championships.”
UK will begin the search for a coach. Practice will begin during the fall semester, with the first competition expected in February 2022.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is STUNT?
A: STUNT is a competitive, head-to-head, four-quarter game between two teams that focuses on the technical and athletic aspects of Cheer. The skills that a young athlete has learned through Cheer (partner stunts, pyramids, jumps, tosses, tumbling) define the routines that must be performed in each of the four quarters by both teams head-to-head on the floor at the same time. The team that executes the skills best wins the round and the point. That team then has the opportunity to determine which routine level will be called next.
This allows the coaches to employ a great deal of strategy throughout the game to advantage their team and affect the outcome of the game. With four quarters of play – partner stunts, pyramids and tosses, jumps and tumbling, and team routine – STUNT is an exciting sport to play, coach and watch. For more information on STUNT or to watch a video of a STUNT game, go to www.stuntthesport.org and/or www.collegestunt.org.
Q: Why STUNT at Kentucky?
A: UK Athletics has been researching and reviewing current and emerging women’s sports to find one we felt addressed the interests and abilities of young women attending UK and also demonstrated great growth potential. We didn’t want to add a sport just for the sake of adding a sport, we wanted to add a sport we felt would generate the support and following that our other women’s sports enjoy. We have a very robust and successful women’s athletics program at UK and wanted to add a sport we felt would add to that success and afford a championship experience to even more female athletes. There is a very strong cheer culture at UK. Therefore, this first competitive varsity sport that has been created in a format that permits the young women who have trained in that culture to be college student-athletes provides another opportunity for UK women’s athletics to excel.
Q: Why now?
A: UK has been monitoring the progress of STUNT through the NCAA Emerging Sport process. It was recently approved by the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics and has been recommended by the Strategic Vision Committee to all three Divisions of the NCAA. It has been approved by the D-lll and D-ll Councils and will be reviewed by the D-l Council in October. The sport has worked closely with the NCAA to develop rules and regulations for STUNT teams and events. It has developed to a point at which UK feels it is the best option to provide meaningful female participation opportunities in our program.
Q: Do you have a coach?
A: We will follow our normal processes for reviewing potential candidates and hiring a coach.
Q: Is this a scholarship sport?
A: Yes. The team will be comprised of scholarship and non-scholarship student-athletes. It is an equivalency sport, which means that scholarship athletes may receive full or partial aid. The number of scholarships permitted for this sport will be determined by the NCAA. UK will grow the number of athletes in coming years as the program is developed.
Q: When do college STUNT teams compete?
A: STUNT is a spring sport. The season runs from February – May.
Q: Will current UK cheerleaders compete on the STUNT team?
A: We do not anticipate UK cheerleaders being part of STUNT. Traditional cheer teams and STUNT are different disciplines. STUNT is one of the fastest growing sports at the high school level for young women. Therefore, our student-athletes will be recruited from outstanding STUNT teams across the nation.
Q: How many student-athletes are normally on a STUNT team?
A: Most successful STUNT programs have up to 50 student-athletes on their roster.
Q: How long does a STUNT competition last?
A: Most STUNT games last approximately one hour.
Q: What other universities have a STUNT team?
A: 56 four-year NCAA and NAIA schools have a varsity or club team, including UK’s existing club team. Nine additional schools are committed to begin in 2023.