Media Press Release

USOPC and NCAA Office of Inclusion Para-college partnership continues with announcement of marquee 2024 activations

by USOPC

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. – The United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC) and NCAA Office of Inclusion today announced four key activations across the collegiate landscape as a continuation of the joint USOPC/NCAA Para-College Inclusion Project originally announced in 2023. Programming efforts will once again be implemented across the sports of wheelchair basketball, track and field, and wheelchair tennis.


The 2024 activations come as an extended commitment by both organizations to engage schools with adaptive sport while simultaneously increasing Paralympic sport understanding, awareness, and connection at various NCAA championships. The work has been advanced by athletes and sport leaders representing the USOPC Collegiate Advisory Council and various NCAA committees supporting diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.


“The NCAA is distinctly honored to once again partner with the USOPC to create awareness about Para sports at the collegiate level, celebrate collegiate Para sport student-athletes, and to foster participation opportunities,” said Jean Merrill, NCAA director of inclusion. “In a Paralympic Games year, we acknowledge the critical role our NCAA member institutions play in building a pipeline for Team USA and for fostering lifelong health and wellness.” 


“We’re thrilled to continue our groundbreaking collaboration on Paralympic awareness and opportunities with the NCAA Office of Inclusion,” said Julie Dussliere, USOPC Chief of Paralympics. “The overwhelming response from colleges and athletes last year was astounding, and we’re eager to spotlight Para sport and the importance of growing the collegiate pipeline to even more athletes, schools and fans nationwide.”


Guided by four tactical teams, the Para-college Inclusion Project will launch the following initiatives outlined below in 2024.


Wheelchair Basketball at the Division I Women’s Final Four Championship: Following in the path of last year’s inaugural scrimmage, the USOPC, NCAA and National Wheelchair Basketball Association will once again work together to present a Team USA vs. College All-Star Game during halftime of the Division I Women’s Final Four championship game on Sunday, April 7 in Cleveland, Ohio. The presentation will include an athlete recognition ceremony and scrimmage during the 8-minute halftime window. Additionally, two events will be coordinated during the NCAA’s Tourney Town activations on April 6 which include a scrimmage hosted by the local Cleveland Wheelchair Cavaliers club team and panelist inclusion in the NCAA’s Beyond the Baseline series. The following Team USA athletes are set to participate at this year’s event: Josie Aslakson (Paralympic bronze medalist), Abigayle Jean Dunn, Rebecca Murray (two-time Paralympic gold medalist), Courtney Ryan (Paralympic bronze medalist), Natalie Schneider (two-time Paralympic gold medalist, one-time Paralympic bronze medalist) and Lindsey Alama Zurbrugg (Paralympic bronze medalist). The Collegiate All-Stars team will include Crystal Jones (City University of New York), Mada Shannon McCabe (University of Wisconsin—Whitewater), Bailey Moody (University of Alabama, Paralympic bronze medalist), Hayley Nilsen (University of Arizona), Marlee Wagstaff (University of Illinois) and Zoe Voris (University of Texas Arlington, Paralympic bronze medalist).


Wheelchair Tennis at the NCAA Division I Championships: For the second year in a row, collegiate wheelchair tennis will have a presence at the NCAA Division I tennis championships. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association, USTA and NCAA will include the final four of the national collegiate singles wheelchair tennis championships alongside the NCAA Division I singles championships in Stillwater, Oklahoma set to take place May 24-25, 2024. Both the semifinal and final wheelchair matches will take place on the primary courts strategically timed between the NCAA championship singles and doubles finals.


Wheelchair Champions Crowned in Eugene: For the first-time in history, the national collegiate wheelchair championships in the 100-meter races will take place as part of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. The top eight men and eight women from the preliminary qualifiers hosted at the University of Arizona and University of Illinois will join their fellow NCAA student-athletes from June 7-8 in Eugene, Oregon. One male and one female athlete will be crowned national champions in the wheelchair championships, the effort follows the inclusion of the discipline for the first time at the 2023 Drake Relays.


Para-College Sport Hub: An unprecedented hub for all things collegiate sport for adaptive athletes, the USOPC and NCAA will launch a one stop shop intended to serve as a vehicle for growth of Para sport programs and athlete participation across campuses across the nation. Targeted to high school athletes and college administrators, the aim of growing the Paralympic footprint in the U.S. will be launched in the coming months.


About the USOPC

Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee serves as both the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States. The USOPC is focused on protecting, supporting and empowering America’s athletes, and is responsible for fielding U.S. teams for the Olympic, Paralympic, Youth Olympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games, and serving as the steward of the Olympic and Paralympic movements in the U.S. For more information, visit TeamUSA.org.


About the NCAA

The NCAA is a diverse association of more than 1,100 member colleges and universities that prioritize academics, well-being and fairness to create greater opportunities for nearly half a million student-athletes each year. The NCAA provides a pathway to higher education and beyond for student-athletes pursuing academic goals and competing in NCAA sports. More than 54,000 student-athletes experience the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics by competing in NCAA championships each year.


Visit ncaa.org and ncaa.com for more details about the Association and the corporate partnerships that support the NCAA and its student-athletes.


USOPC Contact:

Annemarie Blanco

USOPC Communications,

719-646-6921, Annemarie.blanco@usopc.org


NCAA Contact:

Gail Dent

NCAA Communications,

317-917-6117, gdent@ncaa.org

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