MACON, Ga. - The Atlantic Sun Conference became the first NCAA conference to declare sand volleyball a championship sport yesterday when the sport was officially approved for conference play. The inaugural A-Sun Sand Volleyball Championship will be played this coming spring.
"We are very pleased to expand the A-Sun championship program to include sand volleyball, and proud to have the distinction of being the first conference to do so," said A-Sun Commissioner Ted Gumbart. "As an emerging NCAA sport, this was a natural extension of our A-Sun programs to provide championship opportunities for our student-athletes who are already competing in sand volleyball."
The action to establish the A-Sun's newest sport was taken yesterday, Oct. 27, at the annual Presidents Council meeting in Atlanta. Jacksonville University will host the first A-Sun Sand Volleyball Championship on April 20-22, 2012. Along with JU, Florida Gulf Coast University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, and Stetson University will compete in 2012.
In January 2010, through the legislative process, the NCAA Division I membership added sand volleyball to its list of emerging sports for women, effective for the 2011-12 school year. The sand volleyball season will be opposite the traditional court volleyball season with spring competition. Team competition will feature ten players teamed in five sets of pairs.
According to the most current list compiled by the Sand Committee of the AVCA D1 Head Coaches Committee, the A-Sun's quintet comprise one-third of the teams committed to sponsoring a team for the 2012 season. That list also includes Cal State University at Long Beach, Pepperdine, the University of Southern California, the University of Hawaii, Florida State University, the College of Charleston, the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Tulane University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida International University, and Webber International (NAIA). Georgia State University has also confirmed its intent to sponsor a team in 2013.
As an emerging sport, the Division I membership allows 10 years for sports sponsorship to grow to a minimum of 40 varsity teams. If the minimum sponsorship target is met, the membership can consider the implementation of an NCAA Championship for sand volleyball.
The Atlantic Sun Conference is an NCAA Division I league with 10 member institutions committed to Building Winners for Life. The A-Sun meets the challenge of maintaining the highest standards in academic and athletic achievement with a true balance between student and athlete. Headquartered in Macon, Ga., the A-Sun boasts six of the top eight media markets in the Southeast. The A-Sun includes a blend of the most prestigious and dynamic private and public institutions in the region: Belmont University, East Tennessee State University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Jacksonville University, Kennesaw State University, Lipscomb University, Mercer University, University of North Florida, University of South Carolina Upstate and Stetson University.