BERKELEY, Calif. – Expanding opportunities for women in the fastest-growing sport in NCAA Division I athletics, the University of California, Berkeley announced the addition of sand volleyball as an intercollegiate program, beginning with the 2014 season.
The addition of sand volleyball now gives Cal Athletics 30 sponsored sports – 16 for women and 14 for men. Sand volleyball is the first athletics program to be added by the school since women’s lacrosse began intercollegiate competition in 1999.
Nearly 40 Division I institutions now sponsor sand volleyball, and Cal becomes the seventh Pac-12 team to add the program, joining Stanford, USC, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State and Oregon.
Once the total of institutions offering the sport reaches 40, which is expected to happen this spring, the NCAA will start planning to transition sand volleyball from an emerging sport to a championship sport and host an annual national championship. In the NCAA’s most recent participation survey, sand volleyball is the fastest-growing sport in Division I intercollegiate athletics.
The addition of sand volleyball allows the University to continue to meet its Title IX obligations through Prong III by fully and effectively accommodating the interests and abilities of the underrepresented gender on campus.
Cal Athletics will also be able to sponsor sand volleyball at a minimal cost. The team will be overseen by the current staff of Cal’s indoor team, so there will be no need to hire new paid coaches at this time. Travel costs will be minimized because most of Cal’s regular-season opponents are located in Northern California. In addition to Stanford and Cal, Pacific, Santa Clara, USF, Saint Mary’s, Sacramento State and San Jose State have recently added sand volleyball and they have formed a Northern California Consortium for local matches.
“We are excited to add sand volleyball as our 30th varsity sport,” Cal Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said. “Sand volleyball is the fastest growing sports in Division I athletics, and the program will add to the diverse and comprehensive athletic department we already have, mirroring the opportunities available throughout campus. We are fully committed to sand volleyball competing with the very best programs in the nation.”
Adding sand volleyball will increase contributions to Cal from the NCAA Sports Sponsorship Fund, which encourages institutions to sponsor and support nonrevenue sports and will more than offset the program’s initial operating costs.
Sand volleyball met all of the criteria for inclusion as an intercollegiate sport – including sufficient competition in Cal’s region of the country, available facilities, sustainable interest in the sport, and conference and national oversight – and earned a unanimous endorsement from the Gender Equity And Diversity Subcommittee of the University Athletics Board before receiving final approval from Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.
“I’m excited to oversee our new sand volleyball program,” Cal coach Rich Feller said. “It’s the fastest-growing sport in Division I athletics and our coaching staff and players are happy to be part of it. We will run the program with the same commitment, dedication and vision that we have with our indoor team for the past 15 years, and look forward to competing with the programs in the country.”
The Bears will play their home matches at the Clark Kerr sand volleyball facility. The initial roster will be made up of players from Cal’s current indoor volleyball team. As resources become available, the program will leave open the possibility of adding scholarship players and a separate coaching staff in the future.
The 2014 season kicks off on March 9 when the Bears visit Pacific. Cal’s first home match will be March 14 against San Jose State. The Bears will play seven dual matches and participate in two tournaments during the season. The competition format features five doubles matches per event, and each match consists of a best 2-out-of-3 sets.