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Campbellsville University athletics is expanding once again. Coed collegiate bass fishing will become CU’s next intercollegiate varsity sport, beginning in 2014-15, Rusty Hollingsworth, CU athletic director, announced on Tuesday.
Campbellsville student anglers have participated in the CU Fishing Club since 2010, but this announcement will make Campbellsville the first coed athletic department-supported fishing program in Kentucky, and one of the few in the nation to offer scholarships. There are nine other schools in Kentucky and more than 600 nationwide to offer competitive fishing, mostly as school clubs.
“We are very excited to add coed bass fishing to our list of athletic programs being offered at Campbellsville University. We have been discussing adding this as our next sport for a number of years, and are glad to join a competitive group of teams in Kentucky,” said Hollingsworth. “Bass fishing is one of the fastest growing sports on college and high school campuses, and we want to be proactive in growing the sport on our campus.”
CU’s Administrative Council approved the move on March 17 and the CU Board of Trustees voted to add the sport during its April 15 meeting. Bass fishing will be the seventh athletic program started or reinstated in the past six seasons at CU and the 11th in Hollingsworth’s 13 years as director of athletics.
In addition to announcing CU’s 26th athletic team and 16th sport, Hollingsworth also named Tommy Hall of Campbellsville as the program’s first head coach.
“We are excited to have Tommy start our bass fishing team. His experience with college fishing and his personal love of the sport will be a big asset to our program,” said Hollingsworth.
Hall, a 1982 graduate of Taylor County High School, works full-time for UPS in Campbellsville after working his family farm for 20 years. His fishing connections run deep in the southeast as a competitive angler for more than 20 years. Before taking a hiatus in recent years, Hall was a member of the 2007 Kentucky Bass Federation State Team, qualified for Redman and BFL regionals as well as competing in the Walmart Bass Fishing League and Rayovac FLW Series.
In addition to his competitive fishing, Hall has guided Dale Hollow Lake, Cumberland, Barren River and Green River lakes.
During his hiatus from competitive fishing, Hall has remained current in the world of fishing by working shows as a member of the Ranger Boat pro staff and Yamaha Outboard pro staff. He said he’d been hoping to return to competitive fishing this year, and is excited for his return to be at Campbellsville University.
“God has blessed me with patience that it was going to come back along. I’m like a kid at Christmas with this opportunity coming together with the university. It is perfect timing,” said Hall. “I still have the grit of competing in my blood … I’d love to take Campbellsville University’s program to the top.”
Hall also helped start the Taylor County High School bass fishing team.
He and his wife Karen, a 2008 Kentucky Bass Federation State Team member, reside in Adair County. He has three children: son, Taylor; daughters, Hannah and Samantha. He and Karen also have three grandchildren from Samantha and her husband Brandon: Ethan, Evan and Emma. While competing in tournaments, Hall also helped begin Fellowship of Christian Anglers meetings before Sunday tournaments.
The entire family has fished competitively over the years and been featured in local and national publications.
College, prep fishing
Competitive fishing at the scholastic level is definitely nothing new in Kentucky.
Kentucky became the second state to add bass fishing as a sanctioned high school sport in 2012-13, joining Illinois and now Tennessee as the first three states to do so. Competitive cheerleading and bowling also became Kentucky High School Athletic Association sports that season. Campbellsville University offers athletic scholarships in each of those sports.
Collegiate bass fishing is believed to have begun in 1992 when a group from Purdue challenged a group from Indiana University to a fishing tournament. A decade later, the Collegiate Bass Anglers Association was formed, but was short lived. Today, there are three organizations for collegiate bass fishing: the Carhartt Bassmaster College Series debuted in 2005, followed by the inaugural Association of Collegiate Anglers (ACA) Cabela’s Collegiate Bass Fishing Tournament Series in 2006 and FLW College Fishing was introduced in 2009.
Campbellsville will join Adrian College (Mich.) as the only schools to announce the addition of the sport for 2014-15 so far.