NCAA Sand Volleyball - Don't break out the sunscreen yet

Last month, the NCAA designated sand volleyball an emerging sport for women, making it permissible for institutions to use the sport for Division I team sponsorship and financial aid minimum requirements. However, what was initially viewed as a new participation opportunity for women that could assist institutions with Title IX compliance is now being questioned and potentially subject to an override vote at the NCAA convention.

Iowa State Senior Associate Athletic Director Calli Sanders is circulating a very well developed position paper, encouraging institutions to pursue an override vote at the upcoming NCAA Convention in January. Her rationale for the override vote is primarily motivated by both budgetary and competitive equity concerns.

While intended to increase competitive opportunities for female athletes, at many institutions, adding the sport may not provide meaningful additional participation because the participants will likely be individuals who are already members of the indoor volleyball team and will now be recruited for both sports.

From a competitive equity standpoint, institutions with large budgets and/or warm weather locations will have a greater interest in adding the sport. This in turn may turn a nationally competitive indoor sport into a regionally strong sport (similar to baseball or ice hockey) because the most talented athletes will prefer schools that sponsor sand volleyball with nearly year-round competitive opportunities from sponsoring both sports. Further, the sand season may not conclude until July.

Financially, institutions may be pressured to show increased commitment to their indoor programs and add sand volleyball in order to maintain indoor competitiveness - adding expense without meaningful additional competitive opportunities. However, some institutions that are adding the sport to help meet NCAA minimum sport sponsorship and financial aid requirements may potentially view sand volleyball favorably because some expenses for the sand team (e.g. coaching staffs) can be shared with the indoor team, which would be less expensive than sponsoring a dissimilar sport (e.g. field hockey, soccer, etc.).

Institutions should examine the issue closely to determine what is best for their own particular situation and contact their conference office to submit an override request or express support for the sport before the June 29 deadline.


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