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Greg Johnson | | September 17, 2015

Newest championship will be called beach volleyball

The NCAA’s 90th championship will be called beach volleyball.

The committee that oversees the sport made the decision June 23, after thoroughly discussing what the sport should be known as during a conference call. The decision also gives the committee a name: the NCAA Beach Volleyball Committee.

The inaugural championship for the National Collegiate sport will take place in spring 2016.

When the sport was placed on the list of emerging sports for women in 2009, it was called sand volleyball. But because the sport is known as beach volleyball at all other levels of play throughout the world, the committee made its decision on the name based on membership support from all three divisions’ championship committees, as well as the support of the American Volleyball Coaches Association and USA Volleyball.

“We are pleased to usher in the NCAA's 90th sport championship and make the name change from sand to beach volleyball,”  said Marilyn Moniz-Kaho'ohanohano, associate athletics director at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and a member of the NCAA Beach Volleyball Committee.

“It is important for the growth of the sport to be in synch with the rest of the sports organizations dedicated to this great sport at the international, national and professional levels. More importantly, we look forward to encouraging and empowering junior girls to pursue their passion in this elite sport, setting a high standard for intercollegiate beach volleyball and providing educational opportunities at top universities for women.”

The championship will have an eight-team bracket that will be played in a double-elimination format.

Teams will consist of five pairs of players. The first team to win three of five matches will be the winner.

Beach volleyball is the fastest-growing NCAA sport with 50 colleges and universities sponsoring it as of January 2015. NCAA rules require 40 sponsoring schools to request an NCAA championship. Data shows that on average, 60 percent of participants at a sponsoring school participate only in beach volleyball instead of playing both beach and indoor volleyball.

Schools are allowed to use emerging sports to help meet minimum sports-sponsorship requirements. Divisions I and II schools can use emerging sports to meet minimum financial-aid requirements as well. Women’s ice hockey, women’s bowling, women’s water polo and women’s rowing are examples of sports that successfully achieved championship status after starting as emerging sports.

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