Collegiate Beach Volleyball Surpasses Benchmarks

On the eve of the sixth season of competition for NCAA collegiate beach volleyball, the AVCA notes that over 1000 women are participating at 64 Division I, II and III institutions and 50% of those participants are exclusively playing beach volleyball.

Beach volleyball was added to the emerging sports list by the NCAA’s Committee on Women’s Athletics in 2009. The first season of competition took place during the spring of 2012, when 15 Division I schools added varsity programs. Fourteen more programs started in 2013 followed by ten more in 2014, triggering a transition to NCAA Championship status. Funding was approved in 2015 and the NCAA hosted the 1st National Collegiate Beach Championship in Gulf Shores, Alabama in May of 2016. This year, the championship returns to Gulf Shores on the weekend of May 5-7.

The 2017 season will commence on March 3rd. Sixty-four schools (53 in Division I, eight in Division II and three in Division III) will field varsity teams, ensuring that beach volleyball continues to be the fastest-growing sport in NCAA history. The average size of a college beach roster is 15.7 student-athletes.

“The vision for collegiate beach volleyball was to create new opportunities for women by piggybacking on the popularity of indoor volleyball,” said AVCA Executive Director Kathy DeBoer. “The ability to start a beach team with crossover talent already on campus allowed athletics directors to phase their investment and gave them a way to still make progress toward equity goals during difficult financial times. This gradual approach also provided time for youth beach programs to develop talent to meet the growing need for specialized beach players.”

Beach volleyball is a team sport that utilizes a format similar to collegiate tennis: competing institutions each field five doubles teams stacked by order of ability. The team winning three of the five matches is the overall winner.

The spring season extends from March 3 until the NCAA Collegiate National Championship on the first weekend in May. Based on the results of season-long competition, eight teams are invited to the championship and compete in a double-elimination format. At the 2016 National Collegiate Championship, the University of Southern California defeated Florida State University to capture the sport’s inaugural NCAA crown. The event generated approximately $100,000 in ticket sales and Turner Broadcasting aired eight hours of live coverage on their TruTV and TBS networks.